A conversation with the co-founder of New Works.
Disheartened by the too-slick state of Scandinavian design, Knut Bendik Humlevik launched New Works, a design house that pays tribute to natural materials and sculptural forms. Five years later, the company’s creative director still moves between the rustic and refined, dividing his time between his Copenhagen studio and a home in the Danish countryside.
What’s a typical day at the New Works office?
I split my time between creative work and running the business, but my partner, Nikolaj Meier, takes over most of the commercial part, what I’d consider the boring stuff, allowing me to focus on the collections. Still, the New Works team is just four people. We all have our hands in everything.
What’s a defining characteristic of your workspace?
We call our office a studio because it’s where we display all of our samples. We’re not a company who hides the creative process. That’s always been part of our identity and how we work.
What motivated you to design your own pieces for the New Works collection?
I have my sketchbook with me every day, so I’m always working on ideas. Sometimes I’ll pitch them to the team and collaborate with other designers, and other times I’ll design a piece myself. However, that’s become less frequent as the company has grown.
Is that frustrating?
Not at all. It’s just the result of people—myself included—expecting a lot from New Works. It’s important to hold on to the philosophy that we started out with: If we design 10 pieces, three must be an experiment in collaboration with a craftsman or artist. That was easier in the early days because we just did what we thought was right and no one expected anything from us. But today we have a responsibility to grow. It’s a tough industry, and we need money to make the fun stuff.