“We’re like yin-and-yang or black-and-white,” says Thomas Lykke, Copenhagen-based OEO Studio’s founder and head of design, describing the partnership between managing partner Anne-Marie Buemann and himself.
“Our competences are entirely different, as I’m the creative one and she is so pragmatic, so she basically excels at everything I’m absolutely bad at.” The former interiors editor at Wallpaper magazine established the award-winning multidisciplinary practice in 2003 with an aim to revitalise Danish design, as seen in dining destinations such as the two-Michelin-starred restaurant Inua in Tokyo and a wealth of meticulous objects that reflect a lived-in sensibility, he continues, “Denmark has such a long history of quality design and inspiring architecture, but it seemed that the majority of its world-renowned creations came out of the older times ranging from ’50s to ’70s, and we really wanted to change that and showcase an undiscovered side of Denmark through a refreshing perspective blended with our valuable traditions in exceptional craftsmanship and strong attention to detail.”
If you look closely at their painstakingly detailed works, you’ll notice a subtle mix of Japanese and Danish aesthetics. “It’s true that we have a solid bond with Japan and our design somewhat feels like a merger of the two,” says Thomas. “Yet, this is not something we strive towards, it is just the way it is. For Japan, there’s a tendency of looking back before moving forward; what we try to do here is to pay tribute to the past with a brand-new perspective.”
Having worked and travelled the world together for nearly two decades, there have been occasions of disagreement between the two, the pair reveal. (“It doesn’t happen very often, though.”) At those times, they seek a mutually agreed-upon solution; their values and beliefs are fundamentally the same. “We are each other’s counterpart – it’s a one-plus-one-equals-three kind of formula,” explains Thomas.