Modus: An innovative modular furniture series

We have had the pleasure of collaborating with talented students Vebjørn Kvammen Beinnes and Martin Bolin Møller, on their Masters thesis in industrial design. The result of the collaboration is Modus - a modular furniture series that challenges today’s flat-packed furniture market.

Photo by: Anders Myklebust

At Lundhs, we have always enjoyed collaborating with different types of students, artists or designers, and we find it interesting when we are able to witness natural stone being used in new ways. When NTNU Masters students Vebjørn Kvammen Beinnes and Martin Bolin Møller asked to use Larvikite from Lundhs Real Stone for their modular furniture series, we immediately said yes. Their idea of creating a new way of using furniture with a long-lasting philosophy and simple maintenance appealed to us.

We have spoken to the duo to discuss how they came up with the idea of a sustainable furniture series, and why they chose to use Larvikite as part of the collection.

Read the interview below.

The modular furniture series is made of birch, Larvikite and valchromat.

Photo by: Anders Myklebust

What made you decide you wanted to use Larvikite for your project?

The desire to use Larvikite came to us when the furniture series developed into a modular one. The modular concept means that the top plates remain dimensionally stable over a long period of time. Therefore, we had to explore alternative materials beyond solid wood, and we thought the idea of using natural stone was exciting. One of our supervisors at the University, Martin Høgh Olsen, suggested Larvikite as a well-suited material. We got some samples from Lundhs an explored how the stone worked when combined with the light birch that we were using.

In addition to being aesthetically beautiful, Larvikite has excellent properties, in terms of strength, dimensional stability, durability, maintenance, colour retention, to name a few. It is therefore perfectly suited to products that are built to last for a long time. Another key reason for choosing Larvikite is that it helps to distance us from other flat-packed furniture on the market. The choice of material adds an essence of high quality and challenges the current attitude towards flat-packed furniture., which is often associated with low quality and short-term use. In other words, Larvikite had several positive attributes and qualities that helped us to realise our vision for the furniture series.

Larvikite, Lundhs Emerald, in perfect harmony with light birch and valcromat.

Photo by: Anders Myklebust

How was the stone to work with?

The stone slabs we use are off cuts from the worktop production and were given to us in the exact dimensions we wanted, so we had minimal surface work and finishing to do. During the design process, we chose to add a small curvature to all the corners of the boards and so needed to do this on the Larvikite boards as well. The edges were done by hand, first with coarse sandpaper and then with other hand tools. We then went over with finer sandpaper to match the finish of the rest of the stone, and we are very happy with the result. The design process could of course have been done more efficiently with machinery, but we did not have access to that kind of equipment. But it just shows that stone can also be shaped by hand, it just takes a little longer.

Photo by: Anders Myklebust

What did you learn during the process?

First and foremost, we have learned the benefits of working full-scale at an early stage. By making 1:1 models, all impressions are reinforced and you experience more clearly how the furniture appears as a whole and you create a better basis for making better design choices. The first three-dimensional model we made was very rough, and completely different from the final product, but this is the whole point and what makes the method useful. As we worked repeatedly directly on a physical model, we were able to thoroughly but also effectively explore new forms and expressions. This is how the project gradually developed into the furniture series that Modus is today.

We have also experienced the importance of high precision, especially when making furniture that is both flat-packed and modular. If any inaccuracies occur the effects will be felt further down the line. This will affect the aesthetic result of the product, as well as the owner’s experience of the assembly process. However, by making precise tweaks, we ensured a high level of precision on all components of the furniture, in addition to streamlining production. In other words, spending a little extra time making worthwhile changes and tweaks is a win-win situation.

Is Larvikite or other natural stone something you want to work with in the future as well?

Through the project, we have opened our eyes to natural stone, so we will try to work more with it in the future. We are now trying to get Modus into production, and then we want to offer a wider selection of top plates with Larvikite. It would also be interesting to explore the possibility of more colours and surfaces.

Photo by: Anders Myklebust

What do you think about the result?

We are very happy and proud of Modus, and we both have a couple of copies left in each of our apartments already. The process has been characterised by a practical, exploratory, and iterative approach, which we believe has been crucial for the end result. We hope and believe that the choices that have been made during the idea and design process have helped to extend the life of the furniture, and in this way made Modus a sustainable and slightly different furniture series. Even though the Masters thesis has been submitted, we do not consider Modus to be completely finished yet. There are details that can be refined until we eventually get the furniture series in production, something we really hope for.

In addition to aesthetics and functionality, materiality has also been an important part of the project. The choice to use Larvikite has played an important role, especially with a view to adding increased quality and function to the furniture series. We are very pleased with how the dark Larvikite stands alone, and not least how it behaves with the other materials and colours. Together, exciting combinations are created that work well both aesthetically and functionally. We believe this is essential for Modus to be used in the free way we want.

The students are currently working on finding suitable producers for the furniture series. We wish them good luck!

Photo by: Anders Myklebust

Written by Janne Magnussen

Last edited 9 Dec 2021