Danish lighting design has long been hailed as a leader in the field, with heritage brands like Le Klint and Louis Poulsen carving out impressive space for themselves worldwide.
Perhaps due to the long shadow these brands cast, contemporary Danish lighting hasn’t seen the same interest as, for example, furniture. But that’s changing, with design brands beginning to focus solely on lighting once again. Nuura is at the top of the class, with a lamps and chandeliers that recall Danish heritage silhouettes while forging its own path with pieces that are destined to be classics in their own right. Nuura is unique in that they have a chandelier at the centre of every collection, offering a sense of grandiosity to an otherwise minimalist selection.
We spoke with Sofie Refer, the Creative Director, co-founder, and designer at Nuura, to explore the brand’s philosophy and what goes into lighting design:
What is your background, and when did you start at Nuura?
I was educated as a product designer and have been working in lighting for 18 years. We launched Nuura in February 2018, during Stockholm Furniture and Light Fair. I started working on the designs approximately three years before the company launched.
What was the first piece you designed for Nuura? What was that process like?
The first design was the Blossi Collection. My intention was to create a chandelier collection inspired by golden leaves created by reflections of the Nordic autumn light.
To create this effect, I worked with indirect light through an integrated LED light source. The challenge was to create the right golden light reflected in the metal finish. The metal finish produced especially for the Blossi design.
Do you have a favorite piece you’ve designed? If so, what makes it a favorite?
Each design is special to me, and each has its own purpose and meaning. The Miira Collection, for example, is named after my daughter Ida Mira. When I look at a Miira table light, I think of her.
When it’s cold and dark in Denmark, I am particularly drawn to the Blossi Collection’s warm golden light. So that is a favorite as well.
What does a typical day look like for you?
I wake up early, as I like to have a peaceful morning with some alone time, including yoga practice. I work all day; I am passionate about my work. We have an engaged team and great energy at the workspace, so it is really a joy for me.
Who are the lighting designers that inspire you? Are there any classic designers or specific lamps you look to for inspiration?
I’m inspired by the great chandelier master works such as Teraxacum by Achille Gastiglioni, Hope by Paolo Rizzatto, and Artichoke by Paul Henningsen.
Give us a few sentences that describe Nuura.
I would say: sensuous chandelier collections in the Nordic aesthetic. Nuura is inspired by the simplicity and abundance found in nature. We make meaningful designs carried out in carefully selected materials and high quality production
Who is your ideal customer? How does he/she feel when living with your lighting?
Our lighting collections include both smaller wall lights and pendants, as well as large chandeliers, so there’s a wide variety of uses in both private and public spaces. We are passionate about working with architects and interior designers; these collaborations are very exciting and inspiring for me. I don’t really have an ideal customer in mind; I just hope our lights will bring joy and atmosphere to any interior!
Scandinavia has a long history with lighting design. Why do you think it is so important to the Scandinavian aesthetic, and what aspects of lighting do you feel describe the Scandinavian aesthetic specifically?
I believe that the radical change in seasons in Scandinavia – going from long, light summer nights to the dark winter months – creates a special awareness of lighting. It also creates a need for artificial lighting. Nuura is borne of both of these needs.
I am very aware of my longing for light during winter. Interior decoration with nice lighting makes me happy, and I felt that creating a sparkling chandelier would somehow compensate for the darkness outside.
The Danish architect Poul Henningsen is world famous for his lighting designs. His aim was to create lighting that would spread the best possible light while also being glare-free. The light was to be functional and minimalist. In that sense, his approach was rooted in what we today define as the Scandinavia design tradition.
What is your perception of Scandinavian design and aesthetic?
Scandinavia design tradition and values are based on functionality, simplicity, respect for production methods, and care for materials and the environment. There is often an innovative, humanistic, and democratic approach.
Does Nuura fit into your idea of Scandinavian design and aesthetic? If so, how?
Yes, our values and approach are based on Scandinavia design tradition. We’re inspired by Nordic light and nature. I would say, however, that our designs are more extravagant than the typical Scandinavian lighting designs; we create large chandeliers, and use precious materials and surface treatments. Simplicity and grandeur are expressed in nature at same time, and I favour design that has a sensuous expression rather than being too minimalistic.
Tell us about Nuura’s sourcing and production practices.
At Nuura we use only high-end materials and the highest standard production methods. We use sophisticated LED technology; we know that correctly-adjusted lighting can have a great impact on our overall wellbeing. It is important to us that our designs provide high quality light.
Where can people buy Nuura? Are you only online or do you have retail distributors?
Nuura is available worldwide from our webshop. We are working with a with retailers all over the world; all of them can offer advice on how to use lighting in a private home or for interior projects. In Copenhagen, our collections are also available at Illums Bolighus and Paustian.
Find out more about Nuura.