Interview with Stine Gam & Enrico Fratesi of GamFratesi | Yellowtrace

 

It was a rainy and miserable Sunday morning in Copenhagen. The city was looking as tired as I was (it was the morning after Copenhagen Pride) and polyester wigs, feather bowers, spilled glitter and other colourful debris was everywhere to be seen on the footpaths of the city. I was standing in front of FREDERICIA’s Flagship Showroom on Frederiksborggade, which was opened up especially for our #GreatDesignTour2014 crew that morning. I was holding onto my umbrella tightly, talking to Husband on the phone and telling him about the awesome trip I was having so far. I also mentioned how I was about to meet one of my favourite designers – Enrico Fratesi of GamFratesi, when I spotted Enrico walking towards me and enter the showroom. In that moment I realised I was so excited to meet him, I was almost feeling nervous. You know that crazy feeling of overwhelm? Yeah, that’s how I felt.

I went up to Enrico pretty much the moment I went back inside. I thought to myself – “I have to talk to him right this minute, otherwise this feeling will just eat me up”. So I did. Initially I was cautious not to come across as a completely loopy and gushing freak – all I wanted was to give him a big hug and say – you and Stine rock my world. But instead, I played it slow, and gently dropped that earlier this year Team Yellowtrace had produced a special magazine dedicated to Milan Design Week, and that their work was on the cover as my favourite experience this year (see the article about it here, and watch the video of the installation here). Enrico lit up and said – “Yellowtrace? I know it… That was such an honour… Now I know what you say to me is true.” Thank goodness, because this meant that from this point onwards I was able to talk to him freely without sounding like a complete groupie.

The rest they say is history… By the way, I’m super happy to report that Enrico is as lovely, natural, gentle and kind in person, just like his and Stine’s designs are for the world. Needless to say, I feel deeply honoured to feature an interview with my design heroes today. I have been a huge admirer of GamFratesi’s work and their ability to design product, interiors and stage events and installations that have elicited huge amongst of love in me, one of which scored a perfect 10 out of 10 on the Dana cry-o-meter. Respect.

 

See more work by Gamfratesi on Yellowtrace.
Related Post: #YellowtraceTravels // Copenhagen, Denmark.

 

Interview // GamFratesi | Yellowtrace

GamFratesi Studio.

Interview // GamFratesi | Yellowtrace

GamFratesi Studio.

Interview // GamFratesi | Yellowtrace

Sketches by GamFratesi.

 

+ Dear Stine & Enrico – Welcome to Yellowtrace! Could you please give us a quick introduction on yourselves? When did you first decide you wanted to become architects, and at which point did you become interested in product design? And how did you two meet???

STINE: Hello Dana, nice to talk to you. Enrico and I met in 2004 while studying architecture in Italy. I was an exchange student coming from work experience that went on ofor 6 months in Japan, Tokyo, in the office of Mr. Fumihiko Maki. We instantly began to share a beautiful relationship and some university exams. During this period Enrico went in Sweden to attend 6 months of studies. Anyway, during these months we meet constantly in Denmark, Italy and Sweden, planning the return of these two experiences of moving together to Aarhus in Denmark for a year, with the idea to specialise in furniture design and start a new route, descending scale and work on the furnishings. After a year of study in Aarhus we finally moved to Copenhagen. Both shared traditions of Italian and Danish design became a strong point for us – fascinated with our cultural contrasts transformed into a careful line to follow for the entire future. After a few years, GamFratesi design studio was established spontaneously in 2006.

 

Interview // GamFratesi | Yellowtrace

Portrait of Stine & Enrico. Spunks.

Interview // GamFratesi | Yellowtrace

Bettle chair for Gubi.

Interview // GamFratesi | Yellowtrace

Development of Bettle chair for Gubi.

The Standard Copenhagen by GamFratesi | Yellowtrace

Restaurant Verandah in Copenhagen.

Related post: The Standard By GamFratesi // Copenhagen, Denmark.

 

+ How is your studio structured? i.e. How many of you work in the studio, what types of skills do you have in-house, and how many projects do you handle at any one time?

ENRICO: GamFratesi is a small studio and we like this “human” dimension. Every project is followed in intimate and personal way by me and Stine. It is therefore not either of us on our own who takes care of a project – it’s rather an intense collaboration where our personal skills and culture come together for a common purpose, to try to give the best in every single project! Of course we follow multiple projects at the same time and we have assistants and collaborators to develop several projects, but we are always present in each project. At the moment we work with different scales, furniture, products, interiors and exhibitions and this really makes our constructive thinking; all of them are extremely interesting, and we are very glad to have the possibility to work in different fields and with different people.

 

Interview // GamFratesi | Yellowtrace

Development of Masculo chair for Gubi.

Interview // GamFratesi | Yellowtrace

Masculo chair for Gubi.

Interview // GamFratesi | Yellowtrace

Haiku sofa for Fredericia.

Interview // GamFratesi | Yellowtrace

Sketches of Haiku sofa for Fredericia.

 

+ Although you are now quite established, world renowned designers, the world of design is really competitive and it can be difficult to get a break. In retrospect, what do you consider to have been a turning point in your career? Has there been one project, one client, or an important set of skills you’ve developed that has changed the course of your career?

STINE: Probably the Rewrite desk in production with LigneRoset. During the Walk the plank award in 2009, our studio was showing a solo exhibition at the Danish Museum of Art and Design. The exhibition contained two new products, installation projects and showing parts of our process. One of the new projects exhibited was the Rewrite desk that, that’s been in production since January 2011. It plays with the disproportion of an element. For this we have carefully studied the size and the shape, producing several models, and looking for a perfect balance. We can say the result really expresses the philosophy of a GamFratesi product, a strong concept behind it, expressed with great quality in the materials and detailing. The result is a product for people – functional and communicative with the user. Since then, this “ingredient” has always been an important part of the vision in our design and they are still present in our latest products today.

 

Interview // GamFratesi | Yellowtrace

Rewrite table for LigneRoset.

Interview // GamFratesi | Yellowtrace

Interview // GamFratesi | Yellowtrace

Balance mobile prototype & sketches.

Interview // GamFratesi | Yellowtrace

TS Tables for Gubi.

 

+ How important is the ability to balance the design and business in today’s market? How much time do you spend on each side of your practice?

ENRICO: Obviously we have our dreams and projects we wish to achieve, but honestly we don’t plan too much (as in business plan), and we focus more on the projects. By becoming more established, there are more expectations about your work and new projects. As well being a small studio, we need to select carefully which projects to get involved in. We have been working really hard with passion, following every single detail very carefully. After many years of work, our products seem to collect a good response in the market and a positive commercial future. Focusing on the design of solid products was indirectly a good business investment.

 

Interview // GamFratesi | Yellowtrace

Cheshire pendant for FontanaArte.

Interview // GamFratesi | Yellowtrace

Cheshire lamp for FontanaArte.

Interview // GamFratesi | Yellowtrace

Picnic side table for LigneRoset.

Interview // GamFratesi | Yellowtrace

Volume lamp for lightyears.

 

+ What is your main priority when starting design projects? Is there something that is fundamental to your practice – your philosophy and your process?

ENRICO: In general, design began as a personal need, a genuine passion for creating, sharing a set of parameters to which we relate to and we want to express through objects. However, we are not artists, we are designers and the project does not simply express a personal reality but a real necessity as abstract to a public need, if there is still a requirement in this modern society… however design supports good behaviour and we believe it is still important continuing to work on design. If we have somehow to describe our philosophy, we can say that we work strictly with the Scandinavian approach to crafts, simplicity and functionalism, but there always happens to be a strong emotion to concept and story behind each work. We try to create intimate products, furniture as micro architecture – we would like to invite people to interact with them and hopefully you will start a relationship with them.

 

Interview // GamFratesi | Yellowtrace

Interview // GamFratesi | Yellowtrace

Interview // GamFratesi | Yellowtrace

GamFratesi installation at Palazzo Litta during Milan Design Week 2014.

Related Posts:
Video // Milan Design Week 2014 / Palazzo Litta, Presented By Yellowtrace.
MILANTRACE / Edizione 2014 // Urban Stories at Palazzo Litta.

 

+How do you go about initiating projects – do you do this together or separately? You must find that your amazing partnership enriches your output, but is there ever a time when you drive each other crazy, or when designing or working together can be challenging?

STINE: Enrico and I share many of the same competences and interests, and really appreciate being able to work in such a tight collaboration. It is a rather symbiotic process, where we are both so much into it, that it often is impossible to distinguish who started and who inished what. Enrico is absolutely more methodic and structured, while I am more free and messy. But in many aspects we are very similar when it comes to convictions, joy, anger or frustrations – our range is quite parallel. We can be discussing very loudly. We are both so passionate and perfectionists, and just as overwhelmed by enthusiasm for a project as we can be, just as angry or become sad if things are disappointing. But that is also a driver, and often resistance is important in the process to achieve new results.

 

Interview // GamFratesi | Yellowtrace

Interview // GamFratesi | Yellowtrace

Chariot trolley for Casamania.

Interview // GamFratesi | Yellowtrace

Stoneware for Galerie Marie Wettergren.

 

 

+ What advice would you give to emerging architects/ designers who want to follow your path? What was one of your biggest lessons learned since starting your practice? What do you feel is the most challenging part of being a designer today?

ENRICO: The biggest advice is probably to be patient. See the project become a product to achieve correct production – distribution and end use in architectural projects can take a long time. We think what’s particularly challenging for a designer is to be prepared in a variety of situations and experiences. It is not only the design skills and techniques that will prove as the most imporant elements of the profession of a classic designer. To these a designer needs to add the ability to relate to different stages of the process – between a designer, a company, a craftsman, a journalist etc. This obviously requires time and experience to handle different situations.

+ What’s next – can you share with us your vision, some of your goals and some of your current projects?

Many new products are now under development, and we are very curious to see how they will arrive to the end of the process. We’ve also had a few very successful exhibitions in the past couple of years and we have now been invited to be the curators for Mindcraft – a large exhibition on DanishDesign held in Milan next year.

 

Interview // GamFratesi | Yellowtrace

Cartoon chair for Swedese. One of my personal favourites.

Interview // GamFratesi | Yellowtrace

Baffi broom for Swedese,

Interview // GamFratesi | Yellowtrace

Compass for Casamania.

 

Let’s Get Real:

+ What’s the best mistake you have ever made?

Start working (seriously) together. We both grew up with the idea that it would not be possible, but then…

+ Best piece of advice you’ve been given?

ENRICO: Wait for a moment before speaking… I have not succeeded, yet.

 

Danish Chromatism by Signe Byrdal Terenziani and GamFratesi during Milan Design Week 2013 | Yellowtrace.

Danish Chromatism by Signe Byrdal Terenziani and GamFratesi during Milan Design Week 2013 | Yellowtrace.

Danish Chromatism by Signe Byrdal Terenziani and GamFratesi during Milan Design Week 2013 | Yellowtrace.

Danish Cromatism at Triennale di Milano during Milan Design Week 2013.

Related Post: Danish Chromatism By Signe Byrdal Terenziani And GamFratesi At Triennale Di Milano // Milan 2013.
Click here to see previous work by Gamfratesi on Yellowtrace.

 

+ What is your most treasured belonging?

Our son.

+ What’s one thing other people may not know about you?

Stine is not always calm and can get quite furious.

+ It’s not very cool, but we really like…

Christmas time.

 

Interview // GamFratesi | Yellowtrace

Interview // GamFratesi | Yellowtrace

Design of the exhibition Danish Pulse in Shanghai, China in December 2013.


[Images courtesy of GamFratesi.]

 

About The Author

Dana Tomić Hughes
Founder & Editor
Google+

Dana is an award-winning interior designer living in Sydney, Australia. With an unhealthy passion for design, Dana commits to an abnormal amount of daily design research. Regular travel and attendance at premier design events, enables Dana to stay at the forefront of the design world globally. While she is super serious about design, Dana never takes herself - nor design - too seriously. Together with her life and business partner, Nick Hughes, Dana is Boss Lady at Studio Yellowtrace, specialising in Interior Design, Creative Direction and Special Projects. The studio takes a highly conceptual and holistic approach to translating brands & ideas into places.

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