Founder and CEO
Meet the two gentlemen who define every aspect of Garde Hvalsøe, from the big passions and gestures to the tiniest hand-crafted detail. Founder Søren Hvalsøe Garde, who was not satisfied merely to admire the Danish furniture classics but felt compelled to create his own kitchen classic and, later, to craft an entire universe in the same spirit. And Partner and CEO Søren Lundh Aagaard, who, with his keen sense of storytelling, has introduced Garde Hvalsøe on the international design scene – and who is just as dedicated to quality craftsmanship, people and creating settings for life as Garde is. Both are trained cabinetmakers. They love to cook and take an uncompromising approach to cabinetmaking, gastronomy and life in general.
Søren Hvalsøe Garde: A Quest for Quality
I have always put a priority on quality. My first design investment was four Wegner chairs, PP203s, back in the 1990s. A purchase for life, like my Mogens Koch bookcases, which have only grown more beautiful with time. Iconic Danish cabinetmakers from the 20th century, such as Hans J. Wegner, Mogens Koch and Finn Juhl, are a great source of inspiration. From the outset, my motivation has been my love of classic design and a desire to create bespoke interior solutions of a similar quality and beauty.
My first cabinetmaking workshop was in Ryesgade in Copenhagen, a street that had many small metal and woodworking and shops. I secured assignments by going door to door. I grew up with a dad who was always bent over his workbench, making things in wood, so I caught the bug from a young age.
At one point I got together with a group of young architects, including Boje Lundgaard and Lene Tranberg, who went on to found Lundgaard & Tranberg Architects. Initially, our projects were virtually philanthropic in nature, but it was an enjoyable learning experience, because we had such profound mutual respect for one another. And at one point we made a kitchen together. Along with a long and proud craft tradition, that kitchen continues to define Garde Hvalsøe’s design expression.
Wood is an amazing material. Organic and alive. You can create the most beautiful objects. We deal exclusively with natural materials that have a long lifespan. In that regard, I am a bit of dullard – you have to stick to your DNA, and the furniture we make should still look great 40 years from now. That said, occasionally there has to be room for bolder variations.
Dialogue is crucial for creating a good experience. For us and for the client. We work very closely together in a process based on trust and human connectedness.
To me, it is obvious that Garde Hvalsøe’s furniture should be made in Denmark. We have always relied on local production and we keep a close eye on the process. That is the key to excellent quality and sublime craftsmanship. I never do things by halves. When my wife and I took over a dilapidated flat in a stately building in Copenhagen, we knocked down all the walls before rebuilding the place from scratch and furnishing it with bespoke solutions in a variety of wood types. And, of course, my small glass cabinet showcasing my collection of architect-designed miniature furniture.
Søren Lundh Aagaard: The Power of Craftsmanship
There is a basic lesson any successful cabinetmaker has to learn: if the base is not good, the furniture will never be good. If the frame is crooked, the drawers will not line up. If the wood has not been properly dried, cracks will emerge. A quality outcome requires quality materials.
In the past, Garde and I did all the work ourselves, gluing, planing, crafting side by side in the workshop. Today, we fill other roles in the company, but we still get into the detail, and we take the craft seriously – and personally. It’s all or nothing. Perfection at the highest level. And the materials are the best we can get our hands on.
We create solutions that go beyond aesthetics. In giving shape to a space, the key is to put yourself in the client’s shoes. It is a feeling that has to be translated into form. A story to be told.
Presenting a project, in flesh and blood, to the client is always a big moment. It is the culmination of a long, intensive process where we strive to bring creativity and technical aspects together and meet the client’s expectations.
We remain true to the tradition of cabinetmaking and classic furniture design from the 1950s. There is no detail that does not serve a purpose. And we remain true to our own curiosity and desire to push the envelope. Developing designs for connoisseurs is a demanding endeavour.
A wooden floor may have survived 300 years, 3 wars and 100 balls – and show its age without being ruined. Aged by the march of history. A stylish design is pointless if it does not age beautifully. That is not good enough for us.
My own kitchen is an important space in our home. A gathering place and a workstation. We cook for many people here, and there has to be room for a deer when I’ve been hunting. We love venison. But it doesn’t have to be fine cuisine every day; on some days, our kids will cook up spaghetti and meat sauce.