The Man Entrusted with Arne Jacobsen’s Legacy

February 13, 2018

The Man Entrusted with Arne Jacobsen’s Legacy

Torben Madsen and his firm, Link Arkitektur, have a rich history with VOLA, having designed the brand’s headquarters, the award-winning VOLA Academy and showrooms in Amsterdam, Vienna, Copenhagen, Munich, Shanghai and Stockholm, as well as the VOLA International Studio in London. So, it’s not surprising that Madsen was asked to design products for the iconic brand. In 2006, Madsen designed the FS1, a free-standing shower that incorporates the best of VOLA. From this triumph, Madsen went on to design additional free-standing mixers, showers and the award-winning towel warmer and round shower head. As VOLA begins 2018 with a year-long celebration of 50 years of innovative design, we wanted to discover how Madsen approaches product design for a company with such an embedded design history and devoted fan base.

How did you and your team approach product design for VOLA?

We began by analyzing the DNA of the brand so we could create a blueprint from a study of the range of VOLA products. In finding the DNA, I was searching for the characteristics in the designs from Arne Jacobsen. It was like reading a poem and creating your own interpretation. I found that the circle, and its three-dimensional “partner,” the cylinder, are the supporting elements Jacobsen used as his starting point. I began to ask a series of questions: What makes a product a VOLA product? What is the VOLA feeling? And, what is the common denominator that makes this product family a whole? I looked at how the geometries of the products relate to each other. In cases where the elements have an opposite connection – the HV1 tap, for example – we see a difference in dimensions, where the slim tube, the sprout, gets a subdominant appearance compared to the more massive product body that anchors the product to its surroundings.

When we describe the VOLA product family, we use words such as “beauty,” “slim” and “elegant,” as well as “luxury” and “simplicity.” These are descriptive words that define how the products make us feel as observers and users of them.

What is it in the designs that provoke those feelings?

It’s how the geometries are positioned in relation to each other, as they achieve the perfect balance in the composition, and the way the different dimensions are related to each other in careful consideration.

Do you feel a great responsibility to adhere to Arne Jacobsen’s original ideas?

Of course. The first time I introduced the FS1, the freestanding bath filler, it was with great respect to his ideas. But, gradually as I worked with VOLA and the brand DNA, I began to trust my own interpretation of his vision and of the brand. My goal is to continue to challenge the limits for how far I, or we as a company, can go. It’s always in close cooperation with VOLA. We always have to agree if a product is “a VOLA” product or not.

How much does Arne Jacobsen’s “spirit” inform the rest of your work?

As mentioned above, I have been more and more confident with my decisions and my choices in the direction we should go. So, I think it’s more my own version or interpretation of what I think Arne Jacobsen had in his mind when he designed the first VOLA faucet.

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