From the heart of Denmark comes House Doctor, a comprehensive collection of divine homewares – including office organisation tools and accessories. We spoke with Rikke Juhl Jensen, Chief of Design and one of the founders of House Doctor, for an insight into the brand.
What is your professional background?
I studied design at a Danish fashion school, while Co-Founders (and siblings) Klaus has a background in retail and Gitte used to work as a technical assistant in the construction industry.
What inspired you to launch House Doctor? Can you tell us about the beginnings of the company?
We believe that the aesthetics of our surroundings have a huge impact on the way we feel. We have always felt this to be true. Even as children we were all very interested in decorating and creating—and thinking up concepts was actually a big part of the way we played together. We would spend hours redecorating the barn of our parents’ farm,creating small interior milieus in the stalls, or we would dig up crops from our parents’ yard for Klaus to sell by the roadside. Afterwards, Gitte would calculate the revenue of the day and I would decide what to sell next.
That division of work is in many ways the same today with Gitte as the purchasing manager, Klaus as CEO and myself as Chief of Design. Going into the interior design business has thus always felt natural to us. We used to own a local home decor shop and the concept of House Doctor grew from there. The brand was founded in 2001 and our first collection was a small series of tealight candles. Today our collection contains more than 2500 items within all fields of home decor.
House Doctor is located in an interesting and somewhat remote part of Denmark—why did you choose this location, and how does it influence the business?
Ikast is a railway town with about 15,000 inhabitants. The town is part of an area that’s very well known for its entrepreneurship – traditionally within the textile and design industry. The business environment of the municipality of Ikast-Brande was actually just named the best in Denmark for the fourth time and we’re very proud of our area and what we are able to do here. It’s where it all began—we started House Doctor here and it has always felt natural to us to stay, even as the company grew bigger.
This is home. We have our ShowLAB here too, and dealers from all over the world come here to see the new collection. So yes, we are situated in a remote part of the country, but we believe that what we offer here is worth the travel.
Danish design is famous all over the world and has been for a long time – what is it about Danish culture and people that consistently produces such creative talent?
In Denmark it’s rather cold and dark for almost six months a year. This means that we are actually inside our homes a lot and so we put a lot of effort into nesting and perfecting our homey surroundings. I think the Danish design tradition was essentially born from that.
Danes often meet with friends in the privacy of our own homes—more than we go out to meet in cafes or other public venues. We know that our homes reflect our style and personality and that’s why the décor of our homes is so important to us.
I also think that Danes have a knack for not making things more difficult than they have to be. Denmark is, in many ways, a rather bureaucratic place to set up a business, but we are persistent and hard working and good at chasing opportunities. It’s part of our DNA—to work for what we want and not take no for an answer.
Can you describe your design philosophy and/or objectives for House Doctor?
We have actually never taken well to ‘box thinking’ or the limitations it sets on creative minds. We always strive to evolve as a brand and don’t feel limited by adhering to one specific style. The way our collection unfolds today I guess you could describe as an eclectic mix of minimalism, decadence, graphic lines, factory style items and modern vintage. Some items have been in the collection since the beginning, others build on the style tradition from which we started and yet others set a more modern and avant-garde tone.
House Doctor is not just one style. It’s possible to mix and match from our collection and we pride ourselves in providing products that fit well in very different style settings. But if I were to mention only one thing about the nature of our concept I’d say ‘accessibility’. It’s important to us that people connect with our brand and easily recognise it as a concept of quality, creativity and a laid back, welcoming attitude.
When we came up with the name House Doctor we wanted to make sure that we chose a name that was easy to decode and pronounce in Denmark as well as abroad. We wanted to be recognised as interior helpers… like doctors for your home. People always smile at our name and it seems to stick with them—it has a positive vibe to it, which we have aimed to create through a focus on positive words and themes like vitamins, health, energy, relaxation, recreation, revitalisation and quality of life. When working from a platform like “House Doctor”, it’s important to keep the mood light so that it conveys thoughts of energy and recreation—and never illness for instance.
We want to make people feel good—in their homes but also when they interact with us as a company.
What is your favourite era of design?
I think the 1950s were amazing with regards to interior design. The decade marked the beginning of the international golden age of Danish design. Beautiful furniture became affordable to the masses and the 50s sparked a new view on aesthetics and design. Which designers, artists and manufacturers do you admire and why? I’m a huge admirer of Norman Cherner and his classic, moulded plywood armchair. And of course Wegner and other Danish furniture architects of that time continue to inspire and leave their mark on modern Scandinavian design even today. One of my favourite, younger designers is the American lighting artist Lindsey Adelman. I think her work is brilliant.
Can you tell me something else that we may not know about House Doctor?
House Doctor is actually a lot more than interior design. We are entrepreneurs to the bone and have an ever-expanding ‘idea bank’ from which we choose and evolve as a brand and as a company. Since 2013 we’ve worked closely with the gourmet food brand Nicolas Vahé and in 2013 we started working with the young audio brand Kreafunk. We love the process of building a brand and seeing ideas and visions grow to become reality. Are there any exciting developments coming up that you can share with us? We’re actually launching a brand new project this spring in a—for us—new lifestyle area, and we can’t wait to see how our customers welcome it.