Our blog posts seem to saunter a bit through Denmark lately. Another beautiful find from this northern country is the realm of creative consultant Oliver Gustav. If you’re in Copenhagen it would be worthwhile to visit his carefully curated boutique and exhibition space in the Nyhavn district. Scandinavia is still the leading force when it comes to design, therefore it’s not too surprising that when looking North you might find a whole lot of inspiring brands, designers and artisans. Oliver Gustav is a bit of all. But first and foremost, he is a collector. I had the chance to interview him and ask him about his collecting habits.
“I grew up with a very extensive background in collecting, my grandfather was a huge collector. So I kind of grew up with a sense -no, not a sense, a need– for collecting. My grandfather had a very masculine eye, I think I inherited that from him.”
The role of Oliver Gustav within this design playground is a bit different though. As a creative consultant, his focus lies within aesthetic development: art, interior and exterior design. In this, he has forged a very clear but diverse artistic vocabulary. And unlike most collectors, his focus doesn’t lie on objects from a specific era or from a specific maker; he sees the beauty through all ages, from prehistorical to modern pieces. He remarks it’s funny though that most clients, when they walk in the studio, believe that it is all one “shipment” of goods. Which is his great talent: combining the old with the new into one seamless style.
Yet, this doesn’t mean he falls in love easily since he has a very specific taste which is part intuition and part tactility. An object has to move him somehow, to evoke a strong feeling or otherwise it won’t spark his interest. When he finally falls in love with an object, it’s never about its monetary value: it’s about the urge of possessing that one fascinating piece. A true collector by all of Walter Benjamin’s standards. Unfortunately, Oliver never inherited a piece from his grandfather’s collection but his very first he acquired at a pretty young age:
“When I was 17, I had favourite Danish artist, Christian Lemmerz. Well, actually, I believe he is German but lives in Denmark. He works in marble and bronze and makes these amazing busts. I knew the gallery that represented him here in Copenhagen but I simply couldn’t afford it. But this gallery, they were so kind as to let me pay it off little by little over the course of three years. I just had to have it somehow.”
This was the start of an ever-growing selection of marvellous objects. These items all seem to exude the same calmness and reserved beauty. No matter how full a room is, his interior designs always leave enough space for contemplation.
“I would never buy a crazy picture of, I don’t know, Mario Testino with a lot of flowers. That is the opposite of the feeling I like an object to evoke in me, it would rather be pieces that I can reflect on somehow. It is very important for me that, when I step into an environment, it is very calm. There can be plenty of pieces in the space without it disturbing the eye. When I step into a new space I really don’t pay too much attention to all the details and I think that’s a good thing. Otherwise, I would be too exhausted. You can be sure I will look up when something does catch my attention.”
That is the most important aspect of the things Oliver owns, it’s never about the monetary value of an object, but about the need to have it. He works as a true collector, relentlessly looking for pieces that fit into the allegory of his work. This body of work combines modern pieces with rare antique finds, you can expect works by Vincenzo de Cotiis, Apparatus and Rick Owens, but also a selection of crafted home items and antique oddities. These stark contrasts are exactly what Oliver looks for when he designs interiors.
“I really like to put things up against each other -the tension.” says Oliver when asked about his predilection for both antique and modern pieces “my grandfather was a blacksmith. I definitely have a connection with metal, its heaviness and structure. This is probably where my affinity with metal working comes from, with the heaviness of the material and the shapes.”
When asked about one of his favourite pieces -a statue from New Guinea dating to 500 B.C.- it was somewhat remarkable to hear that some the most amazing finds will probably not make it to the ‘shop’. When I asked if he was going to keep it to himself he laughed and said “There’s this gossip going around that if you visit Studio Oliver Gustav you can be sure that half of it is not for sale and in a way it is true, because this is not a commercial place or shop. It’s not a shop at all. It is my heart and it is a very personal thing.”
See more of the Studio’s projects right here.
Words by Sara Martín Mazorra.