Recently, while researching for an article that I was writing about the Circular Economy, I came across lots of companies who are making it part of the business strategy to use materials that are recycled or that would otherwise have been classed as waste. One of those companies was LindDNA, a Danish design company that produces tableware, furniture and homeware accessories mainly from recycled leather.
The company was founded in 2013 by entrepreneur Preben Lind and through rapid growth now sells its wares in over 40 countries. It was the Monstera leaf placemats that really caught my eye and when I looked more closely at this company I realised that there is a quite lovely story to be told. You all know I love a good story, so I requested an interview with Preben to find out more about LindDNA and its beautiful product range. Here is what Preben had to tell us:
Can you tell us a little about yourself? What is your background?
I have had my own advertising agency and my own design company. I have always worked independently as an entrepreneur since I was young.
How did you first discover your love of design? What is your earliest memory of design?
I have always had an urge to create and design since I was a little boy. I remember, the first thing I designed was a stool with a reversible top, that I made into a chessboard. Over the years, I have designed, built and drawn many different things, even remodelled my houses into new architectural solutions.
Can you tell us about how and where your products are made?
LIND DNA is all about craftsmanship and the art of creation. Whenever possible, we insist on our own, local production in Denmark. First of all, local production gives us the opportunity to be hands-on throughout the entire process and to secure continuously high manufacturing standards. Secondly, we care deeply about sustainability and our own production enables us to limit our footprint on the environment. Our designs are developed in-house and all steps of the process are being followed very closely – from initial idea, to production and final shipment to our customers.
What about the materials that you use in your production processes?
All of our products are created in harmonious interaction with the materials that we choose with care. We use materials such as recycled leather, European steel, European oak and European wool. All honest materials that lead to various design combinations with one single key element as the focal point – aesthetic functionality. With materials, design and functionality in perfect harmony, LIND DNA creates Danish design icons for your home.
The bedrock of most of our designs is recycled leather, certified by OEKO-TEX. Sourced from the surplus production of vegetable-tanned leather from furniture, bags, and shoes. The leather is mixed with 20% natural rubber from trees and is therefore durable and dirt resistant.
From the very beginning in 2013, we have been environmentally responsible. Our materials are responsibly sourced, and we continuously refine our waste management at our production facilities in Aarhus, Denmark. Our zero waste strategy is based on a waste prevention policy, proactive reuse and optimization of separate collection of waste to guarantee quality recycling. Our main production goal is to eliminate toxic waste that poses a threat to the environment.
What is your design philosophy?
It’s important that the products are not only useful, they must also be of high aesthetic quality and bring inspiration and joy to everyday life. The range of small furniture, however, is designed with minimalism, functionality and durable materials in mind. When we design our furniture, we cut out the “fuss” and keep it simple, because we wholeheartedly believe that simplicity is more.
The LIND DNA furniture range is inspired by Nordic trends but is still multicultural. The furniture is creative, yet classic, and fits in everywhere in its own stylish way.
What is your favourite part of the design process?
All creative parts of the design process have my interest, from idea to the first drawings. I like the inhouse process where we involve different key departments in shaping a new idea into a prototype product. When the prototype is ready, we involve the sales department in product adjustments and details to match market needs.
Who or what have been your main design influences?
I only design and create things, that I like and that I would use myself. Personally, I am somehow in the cross field between a designer, a craftsman and an inventor that balances creativity, quality and functionality. I get my inspiration from everywhere when I travel and in my daily life. It’s often the material itself that sets ideas in motion – and an urge to see how far can I “stretch” this material to new designs by combining it with other materials.
Sustainability is a key proponent in your approach to design and this is even reflected in your new company HQ. Can you tell us a bit more about this?
It has always been my ambition to sell products worldwide. Today LIND DNA sells to 50 countries, and the size of our current premises cannot keep up. For the fourth time since the company was established, we are expanding and a new 6000 m2 sized building is under construction in Aarhus, Denmark.
The new premises contain our own production facility, warehouse, showroom, and office buildings. It is sustainable thinking and the use of recycled leather that made our success and sustainable responsibility also reflects the new headquarters. Solar cells on the roof, water savers on all water outlets, installation of heat-jet systems, waste sorting and charging for electric cars are naturally envisaged in the construction project.
Our timing on the market with tabletop products made from sustainable materials was good, and our designs have hit consumer demands. Now we´re also focusing on designing small furniture. In this design, we focus on new material combinations. We have combined recycled leather together with steel, and in some cases wool, aluminium and brass. The combination of shapes, lines and materials has led to precisely the functional design expression that we can see, there is a market for and we have already confirmed it in the form of a very positive market response”.
Twice now LIND DNA has been named Børsen Gazelle, meaning that the company is one of the fastest-growing companies in Denmark. What makes LIND DNA so successful?
Our timing on the market with tabletop products made from sustainable materials was good, and our designs have hit consumer demands. The key element is our quality recycled leather material which is very durable. In our production, we make to order which gives us the flexibility to upscale according to market response.
Do you have any exciting plans for the future that you can tell us about?
We will focus more on designing small furniture and new material combinations. We have recently combined recycled leather together with steel, and in some cases wool, aluminium and brass. The combination of shapes, lines and materials has led to precisely the functional, future design expression that we can see, there is a market for – and we have already confirmed these new plans it in the form of a very positive market response.
So there you have it guys, an insight into this amazing Danish design brand. What do you think? Any products here you absolutely love? The Monstera leaf placemats are definitely my favourites!