The Fundamental Idea of Design

Design is to make a change of meaning in the shaping of materials when creating a functional product.

Everything Broen Design do is in some way an extension of this understanding of design. The definition is a mirrow that we can put up in front of our products and use to analyse the products. And it is something we fall back on when we make new products.

But – it does not mean that all of Broen Designs products are strong representations of this understanding of design. With some products its very clear and with some its more subtle.

I will begin with the clear and the obvious.


A lot of design is called minimalism – and it is easy to do so – if you didnt really design anything!

But the art of minimalistic design is to make a strong difference with very little effort.

The basic of minimalism is the material in its raw form. When we look at a material like a steel pipe or a sheet of metal we can feel that the material communicates with us. You get this feeling of the texture of the material and we understand it as metal.

Changing the meaning of materials

When I made the candle holders from my first table top collection I bended two sheets of metal only 5 times and was able to create a functional product that evokes multiple association. The candle has a flame but the candle holder it self resembles a flame. Or is it the small spire from a seed that come out of the ground.

So by bending the very fysical cold material that steel is just 5 times, you dont percieve the two pieces of metal as metal. You percieve it as a candle holder with several warm and positive associations.

This is what Broen Design does – By shaping the form of material when creating a functional product we change the perception of what you look at.

Self taught learning proces

My first table top products was a strong learning proces where I kept asking myself – what is a good design product. One of the things I began to value was the idea that the products relationship to the near surroundings could matter to the shape of the product.

Put very simple – most products stand on a flat surface, and the function of the product is at the top. So I thought that to make a harmoious product the buttom of the product should be a continuation of the surface and and there should be a natural relationship between the buttom of the product and the function at the top.

This thing of relating the product to the surroundings is not normally something you would learn at a school of design. This way of thinking is more related to a fundamental understanding of architecture. So I think you can say that im making mini architecture.

I believe this is a unique feature to my designs.


So when I made my first collection I had a fully intuitive learning proces where I understood two things. What matters is the meaning of the product and the products relationship to its surrroundings.

The table top collection is kind of a fight between these to ideas. The tray is clearly a continuation of the surface, but dont carry many associations. The candle holder on the other side is full of emotions, but not fully integrated with the surface.

The Idea of the Lamp

If you look at the lamp collection it is an attempt to work with the idea of the lamp. First of all the lamps are a perfect abstract continuation of the surface. The steel plate sit on the surface and each disk is an abstract continuation of the steel plate in shaping the idea of the lamp.

With the lamp it is important to understand that the changes in meaning that I try to create is not immediately apparent. I try to make an astraction of the idea of the lamp as you would expect a lamp should look like if you asked anybody on the street to draw a lamp on a napkin. You can say that im making an abstraction of Platos idea of the lamp.

Jørn Broen

Founder and editor

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