David Thulstrup Interview | Yellowtrace

 

During our trip to Copenhagen in September last year, I had the good fortune of meeting David Thurlstrup, who’s work I’ve greatly admired from afar ever since featuring one of his earlier projects several years ago.

David is a Danish architect, who found his eponymous studio in 2009 after cutting his teeth in Paris with Jean Nouvel and Peter Marino in New York for several years. His studio has since then grown into a full-service architecture, interiors and design practice based in Copenhagen. The studio’s portfolio includes a diverse range of Danish and international projects for private and commercial clients, with the main focus on fashion retail and residences.

Together with his talented team, David has developed an uncompromising style where design and art – solutions and aesthetics harmoniously meet in order to strengthen and intensify spatial experience, corporate identity and brand awareness. This effect becomes apparent in the studio’s work with the private residencies at Islands Brygge and Krøyersplads, the beauty salon Blow in Copenhagen along with multiple retail concepts for clients such as Georg Jensen and J. Lindeberg.

Unlike many of our interview subjects, I feel incredibly lucky to have had the opportunity to meet David in person, and visit the studio where the magic happens. David and his team are positively radiant, bright and a fun bunch of people who absolutely love what they do – and they are bloody good at it too. During our visit, Nick and I were treated to a yummy studio lunch – we all sat around a large table and broke bread together, so to speak – something I hear is a daily occurrence at the studio, and not just for the visitors. Ha! No, but seriously, David clearly leads a bunch of people who are incredibly committed to him, as much as he is committed to them. There is definitely something to learn here, you guys.

So without further ado, we feel so lucky to have the opportunity to base today’s interview around some of our favourite projects by the one and only, Mr David Thulstrup, and shine a little spotlight on his practice, his inspiration and his process. Please make him feel welcome.

 

See other projects by David Thulstrup on Yellowtrace here.

 

Kroyers Plads by Studio David Thulstrup. Photography by Hampus Berndtson | Yellowtrace

Kroyers Plads by Studio David Thulstrup. Photography by Hampus Berndtson | Yellowtrace

Kroyers Plads by Studio David Thulstrup. Photography by Hampus Berndtson | Yellowtrace
Kroyers Plads by Studio David Thulstrup. Photography by Hampus Berndtson.

 

+ Hello David, and welcome to Yellowtrace! Could you please give us a quick introduction on yourself? When did you first decide you wanted to become an architect? And when did you decide it was time to start your own business?

Hello Yellowtrace, thank you so much for having me. I am David Thulstrup and I’m 37. I grew up in the suburbs, by the coast about 20 minutes north of Copenhagen. As a child my four siblings and I were taken to church every Sunday. It was there that I first started to notice architecture. I would sit there transforming the space in my head. I distinctively remember thinking about what I would do to improve the light, the colours and how I would shift the elements around to heighten the experience. From a very young age I knew that architecture and design were of great interest to me.

I began to pursue it seriously as a career path when I attended an art school in Paris before moving back to Denmark to take a bachelor at the Danish Design School. The subsequent years involved more living and learning abroad as well – I went to work for Atelier Jean Nouvel back in Paris and then Peter Marino in New York. At Jean Novel I worked on a variety of projects – from private homes to exhibition design. At Peter Marino I was involved in, amongst other things, the creation of retail concepts for Chanel stores.

I had been away from Denmark for almost 6 years when I decided to return to spend more time with family and friends. Shortly after returning I was asked to do a project and it has grown and evolved from that point. Starting my own business was something that happened very naturally and the timing just happened to be right.

 

David Thulstrup Portrait | Yellowtrace
Portrait of David Thulstrup. So solemn, earnest and handsome!

PRD Agency by David Thulstrup. Photo by Peter Krasilnikoff | Yellowtrace
PRD Agency by Studio David Thulstrup. Photo by Peter Krasilnikoff.

 

+ What are you seeking to portray in your work? Is there something which is fundamental to your practice – your philosophy and your process?

Fundamentally, almost all that I do is about striving to create authentic, architectural reflections of our individual clients’ desires and identities. When we work with private clients especially, I definitely grow a very personal relationship in an effort to really understand who they are, what they are looking for and how I can create their dream home. When working with commercial or retail clients we spend a lot of time really investigating their brand values and the DNA that makes up their brand. This process is critical for us in delivering a successful concept and it is this, along with our architecture and design skill-set, that translates the research into a contemporary space.

 

Peter's House in Copenhagen by Studio David Thulstrup | Yellowtrace

Peter's House in Copenhagen by Studio David Thulstrup | Yellowtrace

Peter's House in Copenhagen by Studio David Thulstrup | Yellowtrace

Peter's House in Copenhagen by Studio David Thulstrup | Yellowtrace
Peter’s House In Copenhagen By Studio David Thulstrup. Photography by Peter Krasilnikoff.

 


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

Our studio sits within an old open-plan warehouse in the harbor-side suburb of Copenhagen called Nordhavn. We are a very international team of 13 which includes architects, interior designers and product designers. We have our own in-house rendering experts and an extensive material library which we refer to multiple times a day. This material interest is a very important part of our studio.

We currently handle around 6 projects at a time. Our larger projects utilise a team with a diverse range of skills e.g. architects and furniture designs collaborating together.

 

David Thulstrup Studio Copenhagen. Photo by Nick Hughes | Yellowtrace

David Thulstrup Studio Copenhagen. Photo by Nick Hughes | Yellowtrace
David Thulstrup’s Studio in Copenhagen, captured during our trip last year. Photography by Nick Hughes/ Yellowtrace.

David Thulstrup Studio Copenhagen. Photo by Nick Hughes | YellowtraceDavid Thulstrup Studio Copenhagen. Photo by Nick Hughes | Yellowtrace

Oh hi there. That’s yours truly chatting to David and Agla, having a sneak preview of the studio’s new website plus the first round of images of Peter’s House in September 2015. Boy oh boy! This is how long I had to wait until we could run the project on Yellowtrace. Agony, I tell you, AGONY!! Photography by Nick Hughes/ Yellowtrace.

Dana Tomic Hughes and David Thulstrup. Photo by Nick Hughes | YellowtraceDavid Thulstrup Studio Copenhagen. Photo by Nick Hughes | Yellowtrace

Yours truly and David Thulstrup, hugging it out at David’s studio in Copenhagen during our trip last year. Photography by Nick Hughes/ Yellowtrace.

 

+ You have done some self initiated projects and installations in the past. Could you talk about the importance of doing these types of projects – have they had an impact on your team, and your practice overall? Any lessons learned you could share with us here?

Once or twice a year we create small self-initiated installation projects which, once completed, are photographed and sent in the form of greeting cards to our friends and network. Of course it has this function, but it is also about taking part in a creative project which is not linked to a client. We always work very hard trying to understand our clients – so I think it’s super important to have a project, here and there, where we get to translate a subject or an idea into something physical and experimental with complete creative freedom. It’s a fantastic exercise for the team – and provides a cool little break.

 

Midsummer Installation by David Thulstrup. Photo by Peter Krasilnikof | Yellowtrace
‘Midsummer Installation’ – a self initiated project by Studio David Thulstrup. Photo by Peter Krasilnikoff.

Ready For The Beach by David Thulstrup. Photo by Peter Krasilnikoff | Yellowtrace
‘Ready For The Beach’ self initiated project by Studio David Thulstrup. Photo by Peter Krasilnikoff.

 

+ How do you organise and manage the competing demands of modern business and life? Do you have any tip or tricks you could share with us that help you in your day to day (ie. Software, online tools, shortcuts, task management, cheat sheets, advisors, anything!!)

Like so many others I started out as a single-person company. This has now grown to 13 and with the growth comes added responsibilities and challenges. I still wear a lot of ‘hats’, and certainly don’t have all the golden tips quite yet – but one important tool is learning to delegate tasks appropriately. It’s about having a really talented, adaptable team and recognising where their strengths and interests lay to really optimise.

 

Blow by David Thulstrup. Photo by Peter Krasilnikoff | Yellowtrace

Blow by David Thulstrup. Photo by Peter Krasilnikoff | Yellowtrace
BLOW Copenhagen Hair Salon By STUDIO David Thulstrup. Photography by Peter Krasilnikoff.

 

+ What do you feel is the most challenging part of being an architect today? And if you could change one thing about the industry, what would it be?

I feel the most challenging part of the architecture and design industry today is, (the very dirty word) – money. It’s unfortunate that it is common misconception that our industry is all about creativity, because, simply put, it can’t be. We need to be pragmatic in these modern times in order to effectively run a business, produce worthwhile, creative work of an excellent standard and employ teams of highly qualified individuals to do so. And this is only possible by charging realistic fees and an appreciation of how long it takes to deliver exceptional, high-quality results. As Osgerby of Universal Studio so eloquently put it; “You get the feeling people want you to be a starving artist. If you’re creative and commercially successful, it’s often looked down upon”.

 

Elegant Prosper by David Thulstrup. Photo by Peter Krasilnikoff | Yellowtrace

Elegant Prosper by David Thulstrup. Photo by Peter Krasilnikoff | Yellowtrace
Elegant Prosper by Studio David Thulstrup. Photography by Peter Krasilnikoff.

 

+ What are some of your methods to staying motivated, focused, and expressive? And your top 5 main sources of inspiration and references you are drawn to regularly – i.e. books, magazines, websites/blogs etc?

My team keep me motivated. They are super updated and so alert – hence they are a constant drive and source of inspiration to me. But I think it’s also super important to get away from the office. It’s not healthy to just sit in front of the computer and work, you need to go out, travel and see and experience things. I gain focus and inspiration from many things and many places – a visit to a museum, a walk in the forest or even a chat with friends.

+ What advice would you give to emerging designers who want to follow your path? What was one of your biggest lessons learned since starting your practice?

I will answer that by going back to the business topic again. My best advice would be to quickly accept that it has to be run as a business. Meeting people and socialising (not just within the creative field) really help the cause and hopefully help to gain future clients.

 

Georg Jensen Mount St London by Studio David Thulstrup | Yellowtrace

Georg Jensen Mount St London by Studio David Thulstrup | Yellowtrace

Georg Jensen Mount St London by Studio David Thulstrup | Yellowtrace
Georg Jensen’s New London Flagship Boutique By Studio David Thulstrup. Photography by Hampus Berndtson.

 

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

Currently we are working out the finer details of expanding our studio across to Paris! We have a number of French employees and we’re gaining more and more interest from France-based clients. In terms of current projects – two of our larger current projects include the design of the store concept for a Scandinavian-based men’s fashion brand and the store concept for another more international luxury fashion brand. Since recently completing some residential projects we are looking forward to doing more of that and also expanding into the hotel and hospitality sectors.

 

Materials by Studio David Thulstrup | YellowtraceMaterials by Studio David Thulstrup | Yellowtrace
Materials by Studio David Thulstrup | YellowtraceMaterials by Studio David Thulstrup | Yellowtrace

Finishes Boards by Studio David Thulstrup. LOVE!!!

 

Let’s Get Real.

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

It’s hard to pick one particular one, but I believe most mistakes can lead to great lessons and improvements if you stay open and humble in your work.

+ Best piece of advice you’ve been given?

I was told to go out and have fun – because you’ll benefit from it in the long run in some shape or form. But honestly, if it’s not fun most of the time, then you’re probably not doing it right.

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

I like to think of myself as a pretty mean cook and have my family over once a week to try my creations.

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

Chinese crystal balls. I have a colourful collection of about 10-15 now!

 

Materials by Studio David Thulstrup | YellowtraceMaterials by Studio David Thulstrup | Yellowtrace

More finishes Boards by Studio David Thulstrup. I know, aren’t they the best?


[Images courtesy of Studio David Thulstrup and Yellowtrace. Photography credits as noted.]

 

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, Dana is Boss Lady at Studio Yellowtrace, specialising in Design Strategy, Creative Direction and Special Projects. The studio takes a highly conceptual and holistic approach to translating brands & ideas into places & experiences.

4 Responses

  1. Avatar
    Zetta Kanta

    This is so inspiring! Brought back some good memories when I was living in Denmark and I still draw my inspiration from this wonderfull country for my tapestries. Love everything about Scandinavia. The simplicity, calmness, great food and unmistakably flawless design.

    Reply

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