Q: What do you do at Kvadrat?
I have recently taken on a new position where I am now managing the subsegment within our A&E segment for cruise and hospitality. My focus is on growing this part of the segment directly and in collaborate with colleagues & design studios within the US and colleagues around the world.
Q: How and when did you start your career at Kvadrat?
I started working for Kvadrat on 1 August 2000. I have been here for quite a while. I spent a month in Ebeltoft, and the day after my 21st birthday, I was off to Germany where I was a junior sales representative, focusing on the healthcare sector. I spent five years in Germany, followed by about a year in Sweden. Then I returned to Denmark and started what is today known as Kvadrat's residential segment with Fanny Aronsen, who originally designed some of the Kvadrat/Raf Simons upholstery textiles. That was a fun adventure that lasted about three years. After that, I went back to the core with my first and former boss, Peer Ahsbahs, who took care of our businesses in Scandinavia. Around that time in Norway, we introduced Soft Cells, and I also took care of the furniture manufacturers in Norway. Fast forward two years into that; I was asked if I wanted to be Kvadrat's ambassador to our distributing partner in North America. That eventually led to me moving to New York in early 2013, and here I am still today.
Q: What defines Kvadrat as a workplace in your opinion?
We are very engaged in what we do across roles, departments, and regions. We all have the same goal: we want to work with each other and for each other and take pride in assisting each other and getting the best result for whatever task or work we have. I think the willingness of the people who work at Kvadrat is quite unique. Although our HQ is in a small coastal town in Denmark, and even with our humble home, we still have the ability to attract amazing people and talent.
Q: What sparks joy for you in your work?
One of the things that always stands out to me is that no two days are similar; it is always a different day with different tasks working with so many creative minds on interesting projects. Also, working with and humbly being a part of the creative worlds of the architecture and design community, we get to have our humble role in that by trying to impact projects with beautiful textiles. There will always be an opinion on textiles for a specific project, and although we are there to advise, we can also develop and sometimes push the creative process. I take pride in that, no matter if it is a big project or a small and unique project that we are supplying. It is quite fulfilling to follow the project from beginning to completion.
Q: How do you think of Kvadrat as an inclusive company?
Over the years, I have grown a lot in my roles within Kvadrat, and if a person has a desire to make a change within his or her role, that opportunity will always be there. It is the freedom in the framework principle. To give you an example, we have people in our warehouse at HQ who have taken on creative roles or in our custom studio because they had the desire to do that. Also, the other way around, from sales into creative or into other specific roles within the company. In addition, we do not only hire Scandinavians but also hire locally and have a good mix and respect for the local work culture that we are in, while still maintaining lots of Kvadrat values from HQ.
Q: You have been in so many places and roles in Kvadrat, what do you think makes the US different?
I think here at Kvadrat Inc., we are a young company, so I do want to mention how we came about and how we started. Two weeks into lockdown, the lease on our showroom in New York was signed. We signed a lease on a space in Los Angeles, and then Grand Rapids and Chicago followed later. During lockdown, we hired up to 40-50 people, and everyone started on 1 January 2021. Since then, we have added further to the team, and the energy and willingness to learn and collaborate with this group are something special. Due to the pandemic, we all started and met our new colleagues online, which we also learned was a great way to work together. This also shows the force of Kvadrat; we do not do things halfway.
Q: What is your favourite Kvadrat product?
I am a contemporary classic. Hallingdal 65 is my favourite Kvadrat product. It was the first product we ever introduced, and it was also a product that I grew up with. My father worked for the company, so I sat on Hallingdal 65 on beautiful Scandinavian furniture at home. Going to school, I sat in Hallingdal 65 on the train and even at the university there was Hallingdal 65 all over there too. You may call me boring, but it is a timeless classic that lasts. I do have a second favourite which is Twill Weave by Jonathan Olivares, one of our American collaborators. I love the whole story of how the colour palette was inspired by the colours of minerals and metals from Harvard University’s Materials Collection.