A kinder blue

[slideshow_deploy id=’24200′]

On a grey, wet and cold winter day, I set out on my bike to a grey, industrial area of Copenhagen, to visit the headquarter, workshop and shop of the design company Place de Bleu. But this is not just your standard design company, but also a company committed to a mission to make a difference. Maybe not to the world or the entire society, but to the women working here, and such the small ripples will hopefully create larger waves.

Upon entering the multi-functional space of Place de Bleu, I am immediately greeted with great warmth. Not only the many smiling faces, but also the creative chaos of textiles, half-finished and finished products and the multitude of prototypes that all creates a warming atmosphere. This warm, heartfelt and colourful space is a stark contrast to the multiple shades of grey that seems dominant to this neighbourhood – especially on a bleak and rainy day like this one.

On a day like this, it is hard to appreciate this area, although it is one of these up-and-coming areas of the city, where creative companies can afford the luxury of decent size studios and spaces. All of this make it all the more easier to then fall in love with the concept, execution and designs of Place de Bleu.

I have come across Place de Bleus product on numerous occasions, in design boutiques and design shows. But it was not until recently I came to realise that this is not only interior designer, but it is in fact a very interesting business concept with a difference. Place de Bleu is a so-called socio-economic enterprise. This means that although it needs to be financially staple and viable (aided by various foundations), the main mission statement is to create better lives for the women employed and their families.

Place de Bleu employs immigrant women, who have experienced the struggle to find a place and value in the country’s job market, maybe be due to language barriers or personal challenges or other vulnerabilities. At Place de Bleu they are able to find a safe haven in this supportive community, where they are able to regain their dignity and, as an added bonus, at the same time learn new skills. Working hours and schedules are individually tailored, depending on each employee’s capabilities. Some are able to work full time, others only a few hours a week.

Never before have I come across this type of flexibility and consideration for the individual. And obviously it comes with some implications, and might only be possible because of the limited size of the workplace. With these core values of an extreme humane attitude to work-life balance, what is not to like?

But Place de Bleu is not just a social responsible business, but also an interior design label creating some very attractive products. Products that design and quality wise can be compared to any other textile design product.

All products are handcrafted, and the aim is to integrate the skills the women already posses into the design. Hopefully this can contribute to the preservation of indigenous craft traditions and techniques.

The synergy created by mixing classic clean-cut Scandinavian design with traditions from all over the world results in a variety of beautiful products. The collections are centred on several core products, but these will appear in new variations with the changing collection. The different seasonal collections are however not only changing colours, but also improvements and alterations as suggested by the women themselves. This hands-on experience often develops solutions to the challenges in the creation, and this contributes to a constant development of the elaborate designs.

And such the creation of new designs occurs. The Samur cushion is the result of a very skilled employee, Samur, originally from Syria, who sole-handed came up with this attractive design, that has inspired the design of the tea and coffee cosies.

The Moroccan Pouf/Ottoman is one of the company’s core products that have been a success from the start. And it is easy to see way. This multifunctional furniture is a prime example of the inspiration from a traditional Moroccan ottoman paired with a clearer cut Scandinavian design tradition. The detailing is beautiful, and this season’s colours are an interesting mix of an array of warm and cold shades. Unusual combinations, but somehow they really work.

The colours used in the collections are partly depended on the materials available. Place de Bleu produces from surplus textiles from the Danish textile manufacturer Kvadrat, known for its extremely high product quality. This does not only add to the sustainability of the production but give the products character of limited edition.

Place de Bleu is a not-for-profit company, all profits from the sale of design objects and sales in the workroom reinvested in the business.

by Runa Mathiesen

About The Author

Glass Online architecture and design writer

Related Posts