In an increasingly crowded market of furniture design it can be hard to stand out from the crowd. Moebe (pronounced Moo-beh by the way) however do it with aplomb; standing out by being quiet. There’s nothing ostentatious about a Moebe product but you can tell it’s one of theirs instantly - every item shares the same language of simplicity and honesty with a clever quirk. Designs that designers look at and say… Why didn’t I think of that?!
In this journal post we take a look behind the scenes of the Moebe design studio, learn a little about their development process and meet the team behind the products. We sent them a quick Q&A to find out more about this ambitious brand.
RWM: We're really curious to learn more about the people behind Moebe and what led them to establish the studio. Can you tell us how the three founders and designers first met and what inspired you to start Moebe together?
Moebe: MOEBE was formed in 2014 by two architects, Martin and Nick, along with cabinetmaker Anders. Our paths crossed at both the Cabinetmakers School in Copenhagen and the School of Architecture in Aarhus, Denmark. We shared a clear vision: to create a furniture brand founded on the principles of simple, well-made designs and a love for clever constructions. We felt responsible as designers, not just to produce more items, but to think about aspects such as reparability. It was a perfect fit. We all love spending time in the workshop, creating tangible products. We received great feedback at designers' markets in Copenhagen and Aarhus, as well as in small, local design shops. From there it was the natural next step to start a brand, and MOEBE was born.
Above from top left: Frame, Magazine Shelving (65 cm) and Shelving System Sets (255 cm).
RWM: We find it fascinating that most of Moebe's products are expandable, replaceable or repairable, which means they are designed to last. Do you start with a product first and then 'reverse-engineer’ it, or do you start with an idea and see if it could be a product?
Moebe: It’s definitely a mix of both. Sometimes an idea comes to us almost fully-formed, and other times it takes years of hard work before we end up with a design we’re happy with. But whatever we’re working on, it’s important to us that we don’t make something just for the sake of making something. There’s already a lot of good design out there, so we challenge ourselves to only make designs that stand out. For us, being able to repair and the long-lasting nature of a product are huge factors in making a design stand out.
RWM: We can imagine that MOEBE's design process involves a lot of ideation, prototyping, and testing to get the best result. Out of all those steps, what's your favourite part of the process?
Moebe: Every step of the process is interesting and enjoyable in its own way. You have the most creative freedom when you’re coming up with ideas for new things to try, but, of course, only a fraction of these ideas ever make it past the prototyping stage. One of the most rewarding parts of the process is seeing the finished product become a part of someone's everyday life, whether in their home or office. What really interests us as designers is making things that people connect with and enjoy spending time with.
Above from top left: Magazine Shelving Sets (180 cm), Peg Step Stool, Peg Bench, Peg Stool, Wooden Wall Hook, Wooden Toilet Roll Holder and Rectangular Coffee Table.
RWM: We'd love to hear more about Moebe's design philosophy. What are some core values that guide your approach to creating products?
Moebe: Our design approach begins with rethinking the essence of a product. We ask ourselves, 'What is the core function, and what unnecessary elements can we remove?' Most importantly, we explore how to do more with less. This means putting our efforts into materials, details, and construction so that each design element serves both a function and a purpose. Of course, we want our designs not only to be functional and beautiful but also to encourage people to enjoy life with fewer distractions and to focus on the things that really matter. We call this the philosophy of less.
Above from top left: Bed 90 -180 cm, Colour Frame, Organise and Wall Shelving System Sets (200 cm).
RWM: How do you integrate sustainability into your designs with your 'Less is more' philosophy? Can you share your approach to designing a product with long-term environmental considerations?
Moebe: It’s an important question and something we think about a lot. Sustainability is an incredibly broad area that covers so many different things. We had to find a framework for ourselves to operate in. This led us to decide on six design principles that feed into everything we do. For example, take our commitment to producing spare parts for all of our designs. Our philosophy is that it should always be easier to repair an item than to replace it, so we make sure that we facilitate that. When we say that our designs are built to last a lifetime, we truly mean it.
RWM: Moebe products have a distinctly handmade impression. Could you tell us a bit about your workspace, particularly the workshop where you create prototypes, and the craftsmanship involved?
Moebe: We’re lucky to have a workshop here in Copenhagen, located close to the beach on a small island called Amager. It’s essentially our design playground with easy access to all the tools we need to develop, stretch and test our ideas. There are lots of materials like wood, various metals in sheets and rods, paper, and of course plenty of heavy machinery. The workshop offers a balanced mix of 3D printers, both new and old woodworking machines and hand tools. Experimentation is a vital part of our design process, so this setting suits us very well.
RWM: The new products for Summer 2023 are really exciting, it’s great to see your new innovative furniture ideas. Are there any more upcoming products or designs that you are working on you can share with us? A sofa perhaps?!
Moebe: Funny you should ask! We will be extending our furniture collection with some new designs - maybe a sofa, maybe a chair? We are also working on smaller everyday design items. There are always quite a few ideas in the making. The exciting thing is that you never know which ones 'survive' the scrutiny and hard judgement of the MOEBE design team. We make sure not to let half-baked ideas or details that could have been improved with more time become part of the permanent MOEBE collection.
RWM: Thank you so much for the insightful interview! It's given us a deeper understanding of Moebe's vision. We can't wait to see your new collection and are excited to showcase your new product lines both in the UK and globally. We look forward to strengthening our ongoing relationship.