We meet Kaja at Vesterbro, Copenhagen. The neighbourhood is influenced by the creative souls. Street after street we find small workshops and galleries and not far away from there you’ll find the hip meatpacking district. As we enter the workshop we are met by the delightful scent of plants, as if we were situated in a greenhouse. Kaja is preparing this week’s order and preparations for attendance at a fair this weekend. The workshop is not only hers, but a collective of up-coming new artists and creatives. As the conversation start we feel the energy and passion that Kaja put in her projects. We realised very fast that Plant Planets is not her first or only project. She does not follow any recipe, but does the things that she finds interesting and meaning in. As we sit and talk, a lot of people wander past the workshop; many of them stop and look inside with great interest. She comments that it’s nice that people come and peek inside, but it’s rare since it’s not an actually store. If you stop by her workshop, you’ll be more than welcome and if you are interested in purchasing some of her creations you can swing by her store, Design Kollektivet, on Stefansgade in Nørrebro, Copenhagen.
How did plant planets come to life?
I started doing plant planets at the National Workshops for Arts in the winter 2015.
The plants were made in connection with an art project ‘Gardens’, which was exhibited in Blackcph March 2015. By ceramicist Anne Black.
During my stay there were many people who had interest in the plants and when Anne Black and shop ‘Stilleben’ began selling the plant planets it suddenly went really fast. They became a design product. Then it spread very quickly and many stores and magazines showed interest. Then I started my company.
I have since participated in Formland, been to various pop-up shops and I am part of a small shop community in Nørrebro Designkollektivet – where we are 8 designers who share a shop with Danish design.
What inspired you?
The whole idea basically came from an art project. I never really planned to make a design product. But I am definitely inspired by Japanese design and architecture. The simple aesthetics and careful consideration of materials fits well with Nordic style. The Japanese are great craftsmen. It can be seen in the design and their simple approach to it. Over time, many architects and designers learned a lot by looking at Japan’s design history. The Italian architect Carlo Scarpa was also very interested in Japanese architecture. His architecture and design has inspired me a lot.
You started studying architecture – was that an inspiration for the project?
I always work with spaces. In different ways. So plant planets are both a design product, but can also work like a whole art installation in a specific space. There are many ways to approach it. Right now it is just fun to try different possibilities.
I love working with different materials so this time it was fun to try working with plants as if they were just another material along with wood, brass, concrete etc. It is important not to think of it as a plant. More like what you can do, how you can use it etc. People tend to think of plants as something that is very grounded so I really liked to get away from that basic idea.
Basically for me comes the good idea and design out of your hands. It is for me not something I think; it is something I make over time. I have rarely very long deliberations before I do anything and generally work very intuitively with my projects. The most important thing is that you can see when it actually works. There’s no real recipe for what is good design. It is a mix of the things we have learned over the years and so the intuitive process. It is important to follow this gut feeling when it comes to design, there are so many ways of doing things so you may have to be a little stubborn. The focus of my design is often the details and assemblies. It’s always my interest to work with different materials and look at the small interconnections between them.
What´s your dream with the project?
It would be really great if this is somehow a project that can help me to able to live from what I do. Also I definitely want to make new projects, but as a person who really like to do artistic stuff as well, I would feel really lucky if I can somehow keep Planteplaneter (plant planets) as a good part of my company but also start new design projects and interior design. I made an art installation in Hatoba sushi bar on Gammelkongevej this summer and to have work like that beside Planteplaneter (plant planets) would be great, but of course I love my Planteplaneter (plant planets) so I will never give up on that either…
I was really lucky with the way it started, so of course I have a dream of making this company really good but also it is a whole new world for me and I learned a lot this year. There is a lot more into it than just design of course… marketing, economy and all that stuff…
How will you define your lifestyle?
Very very flexible at the moment. My strength is that I am really good and not afraid at all grabbing possibilities if I get them. I was this summer 1 month in Mallorca staying in Jørn Utzons summerhouse, Can Lis, where I worked with sandstone with a friend from architect school. The project will continue this winter.
In September I am working 1 month in Iceland guiding horse trips and doing marketing for them. So that’s another thing and has not really anything to with Planteplaneter (plant planets) – only it gives me new shops and customers in Iceland so that’s great.
Do you care a lot about how you decorate your home? – how would you describe your style?
I have always loved to move around in my room. Did it almost every week as a kid. I like to have stuff around me that my friends have made or some of my own furniture. Just different things that I like. I don’t live very simple and Nordic. I like colours and to have a nice and cosy room. I have just always had my room more or less the same way, same kind of style. I think my friends would easily recognize my style and space, and I like it like that. The thing for me at home is not to put things in the “right places”; it is more fun for me to move around and try to make my room in different ways and see how it works.
Few more things…
Concurrently I sell Wall structures that I produce myself. That I spend a lot of time on.