Per Söderberg and Peter Simonsson are no spring chickens, though they are certainly No Early Birds. Bringing together over 20 years of combined experience in interior design, architecture and the fashion industry, the two old friends and collaborators launched their furniture company No Early Birds earlier this month at the Stockholm Furniture Fair. With plenty of stools and a brand new bench in their premier collection, we had no problem finding a convenient place to sit and get to know each other better. Here is what Per and Peter had to say about starting a business from scratch, as well as discussing the distinctive look and philosophy behind their brand-defining first pieces.
Congratulations on your launch. It’s a big milestone to be showing at the Stockholm Furniture Fair. How have you gotten here?
Per: Well we’ve been working together since we shared the same office ten years ago. We used to talk back then about creating a brand, but then we both went on to do different things for different kinds of clients. So we’ve been working on this for a long time and are just now bringing it all together. Actually now we live in different cities so we communicate by phone and email and…
Peter: …and late night sessions. Maybe that is why we are no early birds!
It’s nice when you can reuse the same element as you’ve done. Was that part of your strategy?
Per: Not really. When we started out a year and a half ago I was focused on doing more exclusive stuff, upholstered pieces in expensive materials for limited special editions. Then we stepped back and said wait a minute, what if we use this design we already have and do different things with it. And it took time for us to realize actually.
Peter: It was about paring down. Trying to be smart and find a single very clear language. We had to think through what we wanted to say. Then refine and find something that would be fun and individual and commercial too. We wanted a very democratic range. Something basic. So that’s the result you see here. It’s New Habits!
Yes, New Habits is the name of your first collection. What kind of new habits are you referring to?
Per: From an architectural point of view and interior design point of view, we wanted to encourage new ways of furnishing that can be very flexible for doing an office or restaurant or home. For instance using long tables and benches. You can put the shelf together in your own way too.
Peter: We were also thinking about the choices that each of us makes as buyers. How do you live, how do you evaluate life, how do you prioritize, how do you choose? Do you choose the organic Campbells soup or non-organic? I take the organic one, and that’s the kind of person buying this furniture I think.
I see, so New Habits refers to a set of personal lifestyle choices. How are those choices reflected in your furniture?
Peter: We’re doing what we think is right. We’re trying to keep everything organically produced as much as we can. Everything is made in Sweden. And within just a couple of kilometers you have the local materials producers. We’re really proud of that because it was very difficult to find suppliers who could support us in the beginning.
Per: We’re using the materials in a new way, like with the plywood. It’s only durable enough for furniture if you find the right treatment for it. So we needed to find the right kind of lacquer that’s organic but still durable and protects the material. It’s beautiful too because it’s very vibrant.
And what do each of you bring to the design process?
Per: My background is in architecture, so I can do a design where the structure is very basic in a way, and timeless. And Peter adds the more fashion values to it, so it’s a good mix.
Peter: From the fashion side we get textures, emotions, pop culture, and more seasonal thinking where things move a bit faster. I like both rhythms together and I think we have a good result. Our interests are the same, but we come at it from different angles so sometimes the clash is really interesting.
Q: And together you are No Early Birds… is there a story behind the name?
Peter: There are different stories behind it. We have known each other, been working with, and talking for a long time about this idea of reducing. But we don’t think we’re reinventing the wheel, we’re just trying to refine it in our own way. So we are no early birds. Maybe you’ve seen this sort of thing once or twice before, but we’re doing it in our own way and now for our own brand. We like the name as well because it’s true, we are a little bit late every morning. We prefer our late nights. And we think it’s important to add some humor into everything we do.
Q: Looking forward, should we expect to see these legs and repeating patterns as an enduring element of No Early Birds, or will we see something completely different here next year?
Per: For now we’re still finding exciting new things to do with the legs, so they will be an important part of our releases moving forward. They will be important for us at least for the next couple of years.
Peter: The whole philosophy of the brand will continue to be a hybrid of design, lifestyle and fashion… we’re not just in one category. But we’re looking at it our way, and we’ll continue to do that.