コペンハーゲンと東京にオフィスを持ち、業界のリーダーから小規模なスタートアップまで、何百もの企業が自社ブランドの方向性を見つけ、本質を捉えたブランド変革を構築するのを支援してきたデンマークのブランドエージェンシーKontrapunkt。そのExecutive Design Director兼共同設立者であり、Kontrapunkt Japanの会長でもあるボー・リンネマンは昨年、デンマークを代表するデザイナー、アルネ・ヤコブセンのが亡くなるまでの20晩年間、働き、住んだ家に移り住みました。今回その家を会場に、特別インタビューに応じてくれました。
INTERVIEW WITH BO LINNEMANN, Executive Design Director & Founding Partner in Kontrapunkt and Chairman, Kontrapunkt Japan
Danish and Japanese traditions come together in Kontrapunkt´s brand success
Humbleness and similarities in design traditions make the Danish brand agency Kontrapunkt feel at home in Japan.
Grey and blue colors dominate the vision when looking at Øresund. Probably not the best day to look at beautiful architecture and design, but the grey weather, which is normality in Denmark, seems natural together with the Danish design and makes it come truly alive. And where we are right now is the birthplace of some of the greatest designs that have come out of the small country of Denmark. We are in Arne Jacobsens home in Klampenborg. The place where he lived and worked for twenty years until his death in 1971.
Now, another prominent Danish designer lives here. The founding partner and executive design director of the branding agency Kontrapunkt, Bo Linnemann, and his wife applied and was selected as the lucky couple to reside in one of the most important Danish pieces of architecture. The house was refurbished just before they moved in to make it resemble the style of the time period when the architect himself lived there. And Arne Jacobsens spirit and ideas are now again filling the house north of Copenhagen.
“He actually passed away in the bedroom downstairs. He had had his drawing office in the basement, and most of his most recent buildings were designed in this basement. He had sixteen people sitting there employed in the drawing office, and during that time, among other things, he designed the national bank of Denmark in Copenhagen. One of the most prominent landmarks of Copenhagen”, Bo Linnemann explains.
How does this house inspire you in your work?
“Arne Jacobsen has actually designed the whole area, where we are now. This is a span of thirty years of his lifetime. And this also shows the whole period from the early functionalism to the later period of human modernism in Danish architecture. And in my work, I always take inspiration in architecture. I dont design buildings, but I design typefaces and brands. In that work I always find my inspiration in architecture. And living now in one of the most prominent pieces of architecture in Denmark, I obviously take a lot of inspiration from that.
“The inspiration comes in two parts. One thing is the visual and the form related inspirations. The other thing are the impressions you get when you see a letter or read a text, or if you look at a building like this. It has a very strong expression of humanity and the human influence is so obvious. It is created for humans and not created with only geometrical forms. That was what Arne Jacobsen did. He added the human touch to everything he did. When I design letters, I often use forms that add these elements to it.”
“Some years ago, we invented the new brand identity for DONG, Danish Oil and Natural Gas, to become Ørsted (a renewable energy company, red.). The whole visual part of that identity is inspired by the Danish functionalism. The best era of Danish design. That is very human but still very functional. If you can combine functionality and humanity, then you have an added value. That is what we did with Ørsted.”
Ørsted is one of many big international companies that Kontrapunkt has worked with in the company’s 35 years of existence. When Bo Linnemann founded the company, his main focus was on typefaces. Today, designers of all sorts are a part of Kontrapunkt and together they make brand transformations for all kinds of companies, among others Shiseido, DENSO and Nissan.
Bo Linnemann and Kontrapunkt have had many successful collaborations in Japan, since he visited the country for the first time in 1999 after an invitation by the famous Japanese designer, Kenya Hara. A harmony between Kontrapunkt and Japan that became clearer as the years passed by, made Kontrapunkt take the next step and open an office in Tokyo in 2015. A natural step to take.
“It has become very clear to me how much we actually share between the Danish and Japanese culture. This goes not only about architecture and design, but also in a lot of other values in life, so to speak. But in our field, it is so clear that the simplicity we honor in Danish design actually originally comes from the Japanese way of thinking. And the softness of functionalism comes from both cultures. Maybe that is also the reason why us Danish designers can make a success in Japan. The Japanese can identify themselves in our way of designing things.”
Can you tell more about how you work in Japan?
“From the very early years we started working in Japan, we realized that our understanding of the Western typography and communication and how you perform globally as a brand, this was something that we could teach and use in Japan. Help the Japanese companies perform with a global understanding. I would say most Japanese companies are very “Japanese” in the way they communicate and perform. This is something we can assist them with to get a more international understanding.”
“But we also come with a respect for the Japanese culture and people, and I think these two things combined are the key for us. We can see that we have a very good communication between us and the clients. But also that we can actually create products that they cannot buy in Japan. I also think that we as Danish designers have a better intuition of what is the right thing to do in Japan. We are not imperialists and don’t come and teach the Japanese, but we listen to them and try to understand their needs and their dreams and then we try to execute from that.”
“To me it has always been very interesting to experience, when working in Japan, how we can learn from the Japanese. We come to Japan with our knowledge, which we can use in Japan. But we also receive inspiration the other way. Therefore, being in Japan makes us better as designers to work overseas. It goes both ways and we are very grateful for having this Japanese influence in our understanding of being international designers.”