Happy Whale (2016)
For Normann Copenhagen in Denmark
Designer Jonas Wagell expands his collaboration with Normann Copenhagen with yet another expressive, minimalist design. Happy Whale is a simple and humorous decorative figure that adds personality and character to the modern interior.
With soft proportions and few, yet well-considered, details, Jonas Wagell has created an aesthetic design product with obvious charm. Happy Whale’s subtle expression is the product of many small adjustments and gradual refinement. For Jonas Wagell, it is this process in particular that is so inspiring about design: “I find it fascinating that a simple block of wood can be transformed into an object that evokes emotions and gives pleasure”.
Pleasure and smiles are exactly what you get from Happy Whale. The straightforward, playful design spreads life and warmth throughout the home. Put Happy Whale on your bedside table, allow it to welcome your guests on a shelf or dresser in the hallway, or create a comfortable ambience in the living room with Happy Whale in conjunction with vases and other decorative objects. Wherever you choose to put Happy Whale, its cheerful look will not go unnoticed.
Happy Whale is made from solid oak, and is available in classic black and white as well as an attractive deep blue. Released at Maison & Objet in Paris in September 2016.
What was your inspiration for Happy Whale – describe the process!
I intentionally seek to work with different types of products, materials and clients, Jonas Wagell says. I consider design to be function-driven, but I also acknowledge beauty and aesthetical value as an important factor for design objects. The idea for Happy Whale was created swiftly on a piece of paper, but have require a long process of refinement with physical models and computer software. It is perhaps created more as an object of aesthetic purpose, but I find it fascinating that a block of wood can be transformed into something that evokes emotions.
Why does it have that particular shape and mode of expression?
I wanted the sculpture to be simplistic and pure. The expression is contemporary and playful and therefore I found it more interesting to maintain a simple expression and use traditional and tactile materials such as wood or concrete, rather that colours. I believe design should bare a sense of time and context, but not be trendy. I try to create objects with character and personality, but with a timeless expression.
A short interview with Jonas Wagell about the Happy Whale project
By Cornelia Brinkmann, Normann Copenhagen, November 17, 2016.
What would you like people to experience with the figurine?
I always try to reduce details to bring out one aesthetical detail or character when I give form to products. This is the first object I have designed that doesn’t have an obvious practical function and therefore is purely decorative. Its purpose is to evoke feelings and emotions – to make people happy!
What was your personal inspiration for the design?
I had been thinking about designing a little sculpture or figure for some time. Lately, an abundance of bird figures have turned up on the market so I wanted to do something different to avoid contributing to an unsustainable trend. One night I watched a documentary about the founding of Greenpeace and their important work with protection of whales. The whale has become a symbol for the environment and this inspired me to create this specific figurine.
If applicable, how do you use the wooden figure in your home?
I have a long shelf in my kitchen where I keep decorative finds, vintage glassware together with my favourite cups and glasses. This spot is great for a happy little whale!
What is the story behind the wooden figures? Is it a new trend that has come up? Or is there a long tradition around it?
I believe wood figurines are part of our heritage here in the north. I don’t want to call it a trend, but rather a long-lasting tradition. Design is much more accessible today and we are exposed to both good products and cheap stuff. It’s our responsibility as designers to try to create long-lasting products with high quality and avoid the temptation of “quick and cheap”.
How do you see it in relation to other ‘famous’ wooden animal figures?
The Scandinavian classics from the 1950’s were manufactured as toys, but even earlier wooden figures were made for educational purposes. The high quality and great craftsmanship behind these objects have made them classics today. Good design has the quality to interpret and depict the current time and therefore the highest ambition as a designer is to contribute with future classics.