New Danish brand Audo aims to evoke a sense of belonging with its multifunctional Copenhagen headquarters
“It’s a modern way of viewing a brand. People don’t buy into a product, they really buy into the experience,” says Joachim Kornbek Engell-Hansen, brand and design director at Danish design brand Audo. If retail has been been moving in a more experiential direction for a while, then Copenhagen’s Audo House might be a textbook example of how to do it: this handsome neo-Baroque building, dating back to 1918, contains a showroom, café, restaurant, concept store, event facilities and a series of rooms that can be rented out for overnight stays. There couldn’t be a way to more fully immerse yourself in the brand’s furniture, lighting and accessories.
Audo House has just been redesigned to mark a major change, the merging of three Danish brands (The Audo, Menu and by Lassen) into one, marked with a fanfare at this year’s 3 Days of Design festival in the city. It’s now known simply known as Audo, and the old brands’ back catalogue will still be on sale, including reissued pieces from mid-20th-century architects Mogens and Flemming Lassen that were formerly sold under the by Lassen moniker.
The Danes have captivated the world with their so-called “soft minimalism” and that’s very much the aesthetic at play here: from the Ib Kofod-Larsen’s 1953 Penguin chair, a mid-century-modern masterpiece, to Norm Architects’ loose-covered Offset sofa, everything manages to tread that line between pared back and totally inviting.
Audo worked with Christian Møller Andersen, artistic director at Kinfolk, to rework the concept store area. It’s now a series of rooms that can be wandered through, where everything is on sale, including the artwork and a carefully curated selection of objects from external brands that sit on bespoke oak shelving.
Wood, stone and other natural materials set the tone in terms of the products on show, which include upholstered high-backed Tearoom swivel chairs clustered around a dining table, and Norwegian architect and designer Danielle Siggerud’s Androgyne stone coffee table. The walls are in ochre, salmon pink and soft green to offset the creamier neutrals, with each ‘room’ given its own colour identity. The palette might not chime with what many believe constitutes a traditional Scandinavian interior, but in fact Møller Andersen was inspired by historical precedent, Copenhagen’s mid-19th-century Thorvaldsen’s Museum.
The fact that the spaces have been designed with a sense of domesticity invites you to linger longer – run a hand over that chair back, sink into a sofa or stay for lunch. It feels relaxing, and highly familiar. It also facilitates Audo’s desire to use the spaces for events and other gatherings that bring people together: this is a great hangout, by day or by night.
Set in the eaves of the building, Audo Residence is where you can shut the doors on the rest of the Audo experience and have a place to yourself. With exposed trusses and angles that follow the roofline, these rooms for rent would have a cosy feel regardless of the decor, but this has been amped up with soothing earthy tones on the walls such as rust brown and smoky grey, blonde wood joinery and tactile shearling chairs.
The lingering takeaway from experiencing the whole building is that it is more than the sum of its parts. “Beyond our headquarters and showroom, it is a place to foster connection, redefining how we use design, space and how we connect to one another,” says Joachim Kornbek-Engell Hansen. “In short, it’s a creative destination for powerful ideas, beautiful design and inspiration.”