The Bjarke Ingels Group (also known as BIG) is best known for its large-scale architectural projects, like its Amager Bakke waste-to-energy power plant and its redesign of the Smithsonian Institute’s South Mall in Washington D.C. The firm’s namesake, architect Bjarke Ingels, is also infamous for his appropriately “big” personality.
But the firm actually consists of over 450 other architects, designers, urbanists, landscape professionals, interior and product designers, inventors, and researchers based in Copenhagen, New York, and London, so there’s a lot of talent in many different specialities to draw from.
For a collaboration with Danish furniture design company Skagerak, BIG translated its larger-than-life design sensibilities to a new medium, resulting in a unique collection of outdoor furniture that’s just as refined and minimalist as you’d expect from the firm. Launched on March 1st, 2020, “Lilium” consists of a bench, dining table, chair, lounge chair, and lounge table.
The materials are beautiful in their simplicity, and in fact, there’s just two of them: untreated teak and bare stainless steel. The designers say they wanted to work with “honest materials,” which can be unforgiving, requiring a detail-oriented manufacturer to make every last piece perfect. The workshop in Indonesia that produces these pieces uses templates to make sure every detail is identical, and sources FSC-certified wood to ensure both quality and sustainability.
The wooden backrests and seats are gently curved to create a “lily pad-like” effect, hence the name of the collection. But it’s the “X” detail of the stainless steel frame at the base and across the backrest that make the pieces stand out. The wood will age and weather over time, gaining an attractive patina, and also comes in a limited range of neutral colors.
Skagerak’s official website explains that “the initial idea of the Lilium project came from one of BIG’s many architecture projects where the surroundings and location inspired them to design a furniture family. They needed a brand of durable quality, and Skagerak was singled out as a furniture partner that combined with BIG’s architectural vision would be an excellent match for the maritime setting of the project at hand.”
“The studio took inspiration from the waterfront and the industrial heritage of the city of Aalborg and the idea of casual interactions and social gatherings, where the Lilium collection would provide the tools for people to socialize, work, and dine together. BIG was on board with the thought of creating a modern and versatile furniture family in a democratic design language that was compatible with both outdoor patios, indoor living, and flexible workspace environments.”
“We’ve always admired the collections put forth by Skagerak, combining Danish sensibilities with the responsible and sustainable production of furniture,” says Bjarke Ingels Group. “We believe that together we can create a long-lasting furniture collection.”
For BIG’s first time designing outdoor furniture, “Lilium” is a home run. And unlike a lot of other high-profile collaborations, this one is actually for sale to the public. You can find each piece on the Skagerak website for prices ranging from 995 DKK (about $145 USD) to 9995 DKK ($1466 USD).