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Walking through Frederiksberg in Copenhagen, you might miss the quiet path that leads to the architect Malene Hvidt and designer Nikolaj Lorentz Mentze’s house tucked away amongst the trees. Although discreet, the driveway extends forward and invites visitors into a peaceful haven, where the couple’s Labradoodle sits outside to greet new arrivals.
A home for all the senses
The open plan kitchen and living room reflect the nature outside where natural materials of wood, stone and metal have been imaginatively used within the space, reflecting the couple’s passion for craftsmanship, respect for the original 1980’s building and their heritage.
From inside the doorway, the walls are cladded in wood that makes the welcome chatter feel close and cosy. In the distance, the subtle smell of coffee brewing and freshly lit candles cast a warm glow on a cold and dusky Danish morning as music softly plays in the background. This is clearly a home for all the senses.
Explore Malene & Nikolaj’s home
“Maybe why we have a lot of things crafted by Nikolaj or that we inherited from our families is because the generations before us, that we stand on the shoulders of, had another way of being in connection with craftsmanship.”
Malene and Nikolaj’s passion for craftsmanship is part of the reason they feel such a strong connection to Bang & Olufsen. “With our upbringing in Denmark, we all grew up with Bang & Olufsen, it’s a big part of our heritage and reflects the design values that we have about artisanship, care for detail and use of materials”, Nikolaj says. Malene tenderly reminisces about a Bang & Olufsen television she had growing up that she purchased second-hand when moving to university.
“The sound of Bang & Olufsen connects with your senses, it sets an ambience, an atmosphere, and that’s why you connect with it in a special way. It reflects time but it’s also timeless, it’s everlasting but it’s such a clear picture of certain phases of your life”.
On the dining table, traditional kastanjedyr (chestnut animals) made by their son Eli, add a warm touch of the season and the couple start chatting about the importance of holiday traditions and the rituals that reflect them. Malene explains that “now we have Eli to rediscover the joy of decorating for the holidays, I am reminded of my own childhood; seeing the joy through his eyes is really special”. From paper cutting to making chestnut animals, it’s about having the time to be together and reflecting on the special times of the year. Nikolaj mentions that he’s kept the tree decorations from his childhood, including a paper version he folded and made as a child with his grandmother and calls this “a picture of time”.
Both mention that their families have different traditions when it comes to celebrating the holidays – in Malene’s family, everyone dresses up and has a big party. In contrast, Nikolaj prefers small gatherings with close family, and they now alternate between these each year. “It’s another way of having traditions and another way of intimacy; there is intimacy in both but in two very different ways”, Malene says.
Music also plays a strong role in their creative processes and reflects the different tempos in which they work.
Nikolaj mentions that in some instances, they must be quick and generate ideas rapidly. Other times they can go into deep layers of storytelling within a certain concept or material to concentrate and focus. Even outside of work, Nikolaj mentions that music is the ideal complement to his perfect day at home. “My favourite thing to do is turn on my Beosound A5 and start cooking as a way to unwind from a busy day.”
For Malene, a perfect day at home is having time and being one place at a time. It is spending time with Nikolaj and Eli, or by herself, and focusing on that intimacy and space. She adds, “it’s about not being disturbed by anything else than what we choose within the boundaries of our home”.
As the day unfolds, Malene and Nikolaj ruminate on the meaning of home. Malene reflects, “home is very much about rituals, about feelings; home is more a feeling than a space. It is about being surrounded by familiar objects that remind you of different parts of your life, and about family, a safe space, where we can connect with ourselves, each other, and the nature around us”.
Upon leaving Malene and Nikolaj’s tranquil space, it’s hard not to be struck by the sense of serenity and purposefulness, naturality and intent. These elements show how the concept of home is continuously created on an everyday basis by the couple – through craftsmanship, attention to detail, and respect for their roots. Eli plays and jumps along the stones outside their home which harmoniously sits within the surrounding trees, as though it has, and always will be there forever.
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