Kasper Thorup – an up-and-coming Danish designer

We met up with Kasper Thorup to have a chat about what drives him and his designs. Kasper Thorup was propelled to fame in Denmark as a result of his participation in the DR1 culture and lifestyle programme Denmark’s Next Classic. Learn more about this true carpenter—a truly unique man who’s found a passion for cutting to the chase when it comes to expression and functionality—and we’ll introduce you to his exciting lamps.

Creative since childhood

Creative since childhood

Kasper tells us that he’s always been making and building things (or at least as long as he can remember). The game was to build but never to play with what he built, much to the disappointment of his little sister.

”I drew, whittled, assembled, and jumped headfirst into all sorts of material projects. My parents must have thought I was crazy every now and then, but I could never let an idea slide. If I thought something could be done better and differently, I had to test my theory. And I went big—my parents’ house and garden have seen me through a little bit of everything.”

When I grow up, I want to be…
When you listen to Kasper Thorup talking about his designs, it’s almost like he’s dreaming himself into a different world. His passion is genuine and out there for all to see. When he talks, he’s visual, thoughtful, and incredibly alluring.

With creativity and an eagerness to challenge and play around with materials that have persisted since his youth, it’s almost natural to conclude that he’s always dreamt of doing something related to drawing or at least using your hands. But like many other boys, he’s dreamt of becoming a police officer and, later on, a teambuilding instructor—even a psychologist.

We were curious to hear when he realised what he wanted to do and felt like he was in the right place.

”It wasn’t until a few years after school that I realised what I wanted to do. I think I’ve always known, but I thought there wasn’t enough security in it. I’ve always known that I was creative, and I had ideas that I brought to life. When I decided to apply to the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen, it just felt right, and when I started, it was obvious I was in my element. My five years at the Academy were amazing. It was like a big playground where I spend every waking hour.”

Big shoes to fill
With a Danish design history that quickly put itself on the map as a unique haven for design, Kasper Thorup definitely has some gigantic shoes to fill. Danish design history has served as inspiration for designers in the country as well as internationally. Thorup himself is inspired by some of the big names of Danish design, adding a touch of Thorup as he goes along. His designs harken back to Poul Kjærholm and Jørgen Kastholm—furniture designers who established the agenda for functional design more than 50 years ago.

”I’m inspired by our classic design traditions. I’m inspired by the present and the things that surround me in my everyday life. The construction of buildings, raw industry, and nature. I don’t seek inspiration—it comes to me, almost intuitively. I disregard what already exists, and I’m open to everything around me.”.

”Being a creative thinker isn’t a 9-5 that can be done at a desk, so Kasper Thorup doesn’t spend all day sitting at a desk with a pencil in hand, ready to design.

”My ideas and creative process come to me suddenly. I’ll have an idea during dinner and head straight to my workshop to get started. When I immerse myself in the process, I need complete calm."

A lightning round with Kasper Thorup

A lightning round with Kasper Thorup

When you listen to Kasper Thorup’s story, ambitions, not to mention his passion for design, you meet a sympathetic warm man to whom you want to listen. We asked him four quick questions—but his every answer was thoughtful and detailed.

  1. Your biggest experience in design?
    That’s tough to answer. There have been many experiences, big and small, that prop up the whole. Seeing my furniture and lamps at retailers and in private homes is an insane experience. Knowing that retailers, clients, and collaborators believe in my products is the pinnacle of success to me.

  2. What are you reading/listening to right now?
    I’m a big fan of the “Her går det godt” (English: Things are well here) podcast by Esben Bjerre and Peter Falktoft. As far as reading goes, I like reading articles in the Danish men’s magazine Dossier.

  3. Where will your dreams take you next?
    I hope my work as a designer will take me around the world and allow me to work with talented professionals all over the globe.

  4. If you could choose one person—dead or alive—to design something with, who would it be
    It would be an honour to meet Poul Kjærholm. I respect his understanding of and curiosity for materials and craftsmanship.

TV: Denmark’s Next Classic

TV: Denmark’s Next Classic

In 2019, Danish screens were graced with six episodes of TV that followed a series of Danish furniture designers: Denmark’s Next Classic on DR1. Every week, the designers showcased a new product in a given category (chair, dining table, lamp, children’s furniture, couch, and armchair). At Lampemesteren, we had our eyes peeled during the lamp week. Kasper Thorup told us more about what it was like being part of a series that challenges, inspires, and judges you in such a short time.

”Being on Denmark’s Next Classic gave me the chance to tell my story and approach to working as a designer. It’s been incredibly educational and exciting to invite people into my work and design process. When you have a production team following you around to ask questions about what you’re doing, why, and what your thoughts are about what you’re doing pretty much 24/7, you constantly have to contemplate what you’re doing, which makes you understand yourself on a much deeper level.”

We were curious to know what he considered the biggest challenge during the filming, and without hesitation, Kasper Thorup answered: “The dining room chair, without a doubt. It’s one of the hardest pieces of furniture when it comes to giving it its shape. When I was a student, we were taught that the dining room chair is one of the most challenging pieces of furniture to design because it has to live up to loads of criteria. So, when I started, I was overcome with awe. It was a difficult piece of furniture to start with, but because it went well, it also gave me a sense of faith in myself that lasted for the rest of the programme.”

Thorup continues, sharing that his proudest moment was designing the dining room chair—both personally and professionally. Before the start of the series, he decided not to doubt his intuition, especially because he would be working under immense time constraints.

”I learnt to trust my intuition and go for what I think might work.”

Kasper Thorup designed some gorgeous products for the programme, and when asked which he was most proud of, he answered with a huge smile and a dreamy expression:

”I was definitely proudest of the chair. Not only because I won the best design in that category, but also because I never thought I’d be able to design a dining room chair so early on in my career—especially not one that would also achieve such national and international renown.”
The art of playing with light

The art of playing with light

The programme shows Kasper Thorup trying out light design for the first time—a challenge that proved harder than expected. He mentions that the most challenging thing about working with light is the reflection, colour rendering, and limiting it in order to eliminate blinding while ensuring that the light spreads effectively across the room.

Kasper Thorup has designed the elegant minimalist Patrone pendants that are made by hand by local artisans in Copenhagen.

The material has been challenged, and in collaboration with the artisans, Thorup has managed to do “the impossible”. His design is a cylinder with lots of small perforations—perforations that proved to be a challenge. Wherever he went, he was met with the response that it couldn’t be done, especially that it wasn’t possible to make them uniform. But a healthy dose of stubbornness and artistic ingenuity led Thorup to trying for himself—and the result was great. Kasper Thorup found some local craftspeople who made it possible to start manufacturing the Patrone pendant.

In 2020, the collection was expanded to include wall lamps with the same neat expression as the Patrone pendants.

”At Lampemesteren, we love the Patrone collection, and we’re curious as to whether we can expect more lamp designs by Kasper Thorup.”

”There will be more lamps from my hand, but I couldn’t say when.”