Thorning Astrup / aarhus are an indie fashion brand. We seek to enhance the Nordic style and build on ancient virtues while at the same time exploring new crafts and technologies. It is a goal for our company to redefine the way you use and wear jewellery.
We are two designers each with a different background and share the development and production of new products as well as share our daily lives as a couple. Maja Thorning is a designer and architect from Aarhus School of Architecture whereas Niels Astrup is a digital designer with a past as a product and interaction designer. Together we complement each other perfectly.
We are located at Headstart Fashion House in Aarhus City harbour.
How do you approach a new collection? From where do your ideas evolve?
We have a design dogma that we only design one defining detail to every product. That detail must be something unique and defining for each piece. It can be a pattern, a type of material or a shape.
Our ideas evolve from art, materials, nature and all the people with which we surround ourselves. Often we start out exploring a concept or combination of materials and let the development evolve from working thoroughly and methodically with the concept or material.
Do you have any muse? If yes, who is it and why?
I don’t think we have one specific muse. Our inspiration changes constantly, but artists like Tara Donovan, James Turrell and Richard Long are amongst our absolute favourites in relation to their devotion to their concepts and selection of materials. Also Iggy Pop serves as a kind of muse, because he’s approaching seventy and still freaking cool!
Concrete plays a significant role in your current collection. Tell us about the materials you have chosen to use and why you have selected these specifically.
We wanted to create something that to begin with was industrial and cold and through processing and crafts became delicate and exclusive. We talked about how fun it could be to take one of the big concrete blocks you see at construction work sites and make it into a necklace. However, when we started working with concrete we soon learned that the material wasn’t suited for small items and we had to develop our own custom concrete material which took about a year before we had the right aesthetics, feel and weight to it. So if you compare our items to other concrete items you’ll find that ours is much warmer, lighter and softer but also more durable in a smaller scale.
Why have you chosen to go down the minimalist route with your designs?
We surround ourselves with noise. Noise from your surroundings, screens, people and media with everybody wanting to stand out. That is why we think that the items you keep closest to yourself and your heart must be simple and minimalist. On the other hand, it is a challenge to design for the minimal. You need to pay close attention to the details you want and the ones you have to kill. It is a constant struggle of killing darlings and working in the gap between choosing the right material for the right detail and vice versa.
Reflecting on your work aesthetic, how does Denmark inspire you as a place?
You must come to our city of Aarhus! The last decade, especially during these last few years, the city has exploded with creativity and small businesses. Aarhus is fairly small so everybody kind of knows each other or knows somebody who does. That means that networking is relatively easy and you’ll find great meetups amongst artists, musicians, designers, carpenters, bakers, bicycle repairmen, etc. The city is also booming with the second wave of Nordic Cuisine and it seems like a new restaurant, wine bar or food market is opening every week which makes going out a treat.
What are the next steps for Thorning Astrup/aarhus?
The next step is a new collection coming this spring. It is still in development so we can’t reveal too much right now. But we can say that we build upon our existing ideas and use some fantastic exclusive materials. Additionally, we are working on an all male jewellery line that we can’t wait to show.