Q&A: Lars Beller Fjetland

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Emboldened by elements of his Nordic upbringing, Lars Beller Fjetland has fostered a deep appreciation for the natural world and its indispensable presence in the field of design.

Interview with Lars Beller Fjetland

First introduced to woodworking as a child, he regards wood as "the very root of his ever-growing passion for designing and creating objects." Pairing crafted details with a deep-rooted understanding of wood’s essence, the work of Lars Beller Fjetland aligns with L.Ercolani’s long-standing tradition of craftsmanship and strong relationship with the natural world.

Last year, Lars talked to L.Ercolani about the collaboration and design process, shared affection and understanding of natural materials. 

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Q — With a great love for and understanding of natural materials and wood in particular, what has the design process with L. ERCOLANI been like?

LF — The team at L. ERCOLANI know their way around wood, a fact that quickly became evident as we toured their in-house factory. The efficiency of their production exceeded my expectations and I was particularly fascinated by their ability to merge traditional craftsmanship with modern technology. This is, without a doubt, a company that is prepared for another 100 years of production. I decided to challenge their production team by pursuing a design with highly complex details and I was greatly impressed by how their product developers rose to my challenge. The end result of our collaboration is a true testament to their ingenuity, teamwork and problem-solving skills.

Q — In what ways is furniture made from natural materials more sustainable, both aesthetically speaking and in terms of durability?

LF — There is no doubt that natural materials like wood, stone and cork are more sustainable than plastic. Wood patinates in a particularly graceful way; weaving an evocative story of time and enriching the object with a soul-like essence. I refer to this force as the product’s “persona.” Our society has devolved from investing in our furniture to consuming our furniture. Gaining a better understanding of a product’s persona could potentially persuade consumers to lengthen the lifespan of their purchases. Buying less but better is the way of the future but it requires effort from both the designer and consumer.

“The IO Collection was designed with naturalistic features that users can’t help but interact with; soft curves and soothing matte finishes.“

Pairing crafted details with a deep-rooted understanding of wood’s essence, the work of Lars Beller Fjetland’s aligns with Ercol’s long-standing tradition of craftsmanship and strong relationship with the natural world.

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Q — What inspired the IO Collection and the soft organic features of its design language?

LF — From my first discussion with L. ERCOLANI, it was clear that they needed a family of tables to showcase the full extent of their capabilities. A premium product that exuded an aura of understated luxury forged from the same DNA as the Ercol originals. The IO Collection was designed with naturalistic features that users can’t help but interact with; soft curves and soothing matte finishes.

The solid construction of the piece has a bare, animalistic feel to it that is reminiscent of the expression: "the elephant in the room." There is nothing apologetic about the table’s presence in the room yet it manages to blend in seamlessly with the rest of the L. ERCOLANI pieces. The collection is called IO, which happens to be one of Jupiter’s moons. Space and space travel have been a recent fascination of mine. Seeing the table from above helped all of the pieces fall into place.

Q — From a designer’s perspective, how does L. ERCOLANI stand out as a wooden furniture manufacturer?

LF — Ercol holds a very special place in my heart and has for many years. As a young design student, I spent my weekends hunting for treasures in flea markets, waiting for the rare wondrous occasion when I would stumble across a vintage Ercol piece. Even then, I recognised that there is something special about the Ercol originals. A certain quality that I suspect can be linked to Lucian Ercolani’s Italian heritage; something uniquely driven and passionate.

Q — How do you resonate with L. ERCOLANI as a brand? What design principles do you share?

LF — Much like L. ERCOLANI, my mission as a designer is to create works that are timeless, sustainable and honest. In particular, I recognise a fundamental element of honesty in both of our works. Materials are selected for their inher- ent qualities and form often arises from function, all the while managing to avoid boring or overly rational design. There is a certain beauty that lies in the understated.

Moved by his time spent in nature, the IO TABLE is inspired by Beller’s forest wanderings in the autumn. Remembering the soft, organic shapes of wild mushrooms and skipping stones, the designer envisioned the table’s subtle curves and smooth finish, creating a piece that translates the unrefined grace of nature.

Designs by Lars Beller Fjetland

IO Long Table

£3,325

Designed by Lars Beller Fjetland, 2020

IO Side Table

£1,695

Designed by Lars Beller Fjetland, 2020

IO Large Coffee Table

£2,870

Designed by Lars Beller Fjetland, 2020