DAVID THULSTRUP DESIGNS EXTRAORDINARY SHOWROOM IN LANDMARK APARTMENT BUILDING IN AARHUS, DENMARK.
David Thulstrup has created a stunning home-style showroom for the Danish flooring company Dinesen and cabinetmaker Garde Hvalsøe, in the famed Mejlborg building, playing up its heritage features and adding edgy contemporary elements. Built in 1898 on the Aarhus harbor front in the historicist Gothic Renaissance style, Mejlborg was a social hub in the early 20th century.
“The ground floor space was once a very chic restaurant with dark wood paneling and intricately painted glass ceilings so it’s not a typical showroom. I wanted to find the essence of how to treat these rich heritage features to create experiences as well as bring in the historyof this landmark building but with cool contemporary touches,” says David Thulstrup, the principal of Studio David Thulstrup.
Dinesen and Garde Hvalsøe share a passion for wood, craftsmanship and design and have collaborated on many projects in recent years. So it was a natural progression for them to open a showroom together in Aarhus, the first for both companies in Denmark’s second largest city.It was also natural to use Dinesen’s diverse range of solid wood planks and Garde Hvalsøe’s craftsmanship in unexpected ways for the many bespoke designs in the project.
The space is divided into six rooms,which Thulstrup styled like a home, using color as the defining principle that links the heritage and the new. Each room is painted in a specially mixed tone taken from the decorative ceiling – a light minty blue for the kitchen and dining room, yellowy nude for the lounge and dressing room, mustard for the informal meeting room and a dusty purple for an office.
“To create a sense of arrival I made the entrance really dark by painting the walls the same color as the woodwork and treating the flooring with a customized dark stain,” says Thulstrup. The entrance zone with it’s dark walls acts somewhat like a de-compression space before the staircase and rooms which lead off it. The monolithic staircase is made entirely of Dinesen Douglas pine and leads down to the basement. With it’s simple and strong architectural form, the wooden staircase element makes a powerful entry point against the dark entrance.
Thulstrup had pine trees planted outside as a tangible link between the raw material of nature and the finished wooden products of the interior.
“You will come in through all these trees and then hit this really dramatic dark entrance at the base of Mejlborg’s domed tower with it’s new monolithic, box-like staircase, and then transition into the other rooms where you see the beauty of the refined, finished elements,” says Thulstrup.
“It was an important premise for us that the echo of history could be felt as the customer enters the door and we wanted to move away from the usual showroom experience. David has created a unique destination that we believe sets a new benchmark for showing exclusive craft and design in an inspiring and surprising way,” says Garde Hvalsøe director Søren Lundh Aagaard.
All the floors were replaced with a mix of Dinesen’s wide planks and parquetry in Douglas, oak and ash and Garde Hvalsøe cabinetry and furniture for kitchens, dressing rooms and bathrooms is showcased. Garde Hvalsøe made a freestanding unit for the kitchen from huge floor planks.
“After many years setting up our kitchens on Dinesen’s beautiful floors, we loved the idea of designing one that looks like it is growing out of the floor on which it stands,” says Søren Lundh Aagaard.
Another bespoke feature are freestandinglight boxes using Kvadrat Soft Cells and Philips lightingwhich add a bold contemporary touch as well as solve the challenge of how to light the rooms without disturbing the heritage ceilings.
“They’re massive and they’ll throw light out the windows so they’ll illuminate everything and you’ll be able to see them from outside the building,”says Thulstrup. He also designed freestanding storage units for the material samples, clad in linoleum.
To temper the impact of the historical features Thulstrup chose furniture in contemporary shapes and finishes. Custom pieces include a minimalist 18-seater table made of Dinesen Douglas planks stained tomato red, a metal daybed and a coffee table in folded metal steel with a yellow-zincopalescent coating.
“I was trying to create a reflection of how I work, being modern especially in the materials like metals and furniture, but also mixing in older but not iconic pieces,” says Thulstrup. He’s designed it as a “living house” which will be used for events such as dinners in the kitchen or around the long table.
“Aarhus is a fantastic city where there is so much happening and a strong architectural identity and we have many clients there. Getting the space in Mejlborg was an amazing opportunity because it’s a wonderful building with a wild history,” says Dinesen’s owner Thomas Dinesen.