Meet the power couple who transform bamboo into dream kitchens
We love its beauty, durability and versatility. But most of all it was its sustainability we fell in love with. The trunks mature for in 4-6 years, while most other trees take 50 years. Bamboo also absorbs more CO2 than is released during the manufacturing process. So it’s actually CO2-neutral throughout its entire life cycle.
What’s it like starting a company as a couple?
The advantage is that we know each other inside and out, so we also understand each other during the design process. The downside, of course, is that it is difficult to switch off from work. It often crops up in various situations and conversations during the day. But we love creating something together, and that makes us feel good too.
What inspires you?
We find an awful lot of inspiration in our encounter with other people and cultures. Also, because we try to make things that we believe can be timeless and classic, we also look back into history – for example, at Scandinavian and Japanese traditions of craftsmanship.
Generally speaking we strive to make craftsmanship, material and continuity a huge visual feature of our designs. All our products are made by hand in our workshop in Drammen. It is important for each of them to have a clear, distinct idiom, which reveals how they were built. The furniture should also be adapted to the room it is intended for.
In your opinion, what makes a good kitchen?
Good spaciousness and a space that encourages people to spend quality time together. Choose according to what you like and go for high quality. Then you’ll probably enjoy it for the rest of your life.
What is important to you in terms of your own home décor?
Our main priority is creating a space where we can find peace and quiet. In a busy everyday life with two little boys aged two and six, it is essential to have a home where we can chill out. For us, a relaxing home is synonymous with good organisation and efficient storage. But naturally aesthetics have a huge role to play too. We like spaciousness and use calm hues and classic, timeless natural materials.
In 2016, the couple Kine Ask and Kristoffer Eng started Ask and Eng, an innovative design studio that creates unique kitchen solutions and bespoke furniture in carbon-neutral bamboo. Boozt met them for a chat about green design, living space and what it is like working with your spouse.
When Kine Ask and Kristoffer Eng embarked upon building their first kitchen together, they had absolutely no plans to put it into production at a later stage. The idea arose quite simply out of wanting to refurbish their first flat using materials that were not only beautiful but produced with respect for the environment. That’s why they opted for bamboo.
However, it didn’t take long before the couple discovered that they weren’t the only ones dreaming of new, greener interior design solutions. The demand for Ask and Eng’s bamboo designs went on to become so strong that they moved their workshop from their garage to new, much larger premises in Drammen. From there, they manufacture organic kitchens and unique furniture for homes all over the world.
How did Ask and Eng get started?
We started off small, when we moved into our first flat. We both liked the idea of incorporating sustainability into the refurbishment and, given that Kristoffer, who’s an architect, had used bamboo in one of his projects, he suggested we try to make our own kitchen.
At that time we’d never built anything before. But, once we got started, it felt great to create something ourselves, and we learned a lot about bamboo as a material. So, when we were expecting our first child and had to move, we immediately agreed to build yet another bamboo kitchen. Then things really took off.
What was the next step?
We started designing and producing both kitchens and furniture for other people at home in our garage. But it didn’t take long before the workshop had also taken over virtually the entire house. When we realised there was no room for us to live in, we rented premises, where we could continue to develop what is now Ask and Eng. So actually there wasn’t any specific moment that inspired us to start the brand. It evolved organically - as part of us.
Ask and Eng’s A Collection features bamboo kitchen fronts, all of which fit IKEA cabinets.
What are your future ambitions for Ask and Eng?
This year we have several projects abroad, and we find that really exciting. For example, we opened a showroom flat in Antwerp, and there will soon be one in Copenhagen too. We’ve also designed a few new versions and items of furniture, which will come on the market on a regular basis.
All our furniture is made as a prototype for one specific project. Then, if we really like the design and the demand exists, we launch it as part of our A collection. In fact, at the moment we’re in the process of creating a brand new home for ourselves. We are completely doing up a house from 1868. We’ve designed a new kitchen and some prototypes. So let’s see what that leads to.
See Ask and Eng’s collections on askogeng.no
Ask and Eng’s bamboo products come in eight different finishes – from light to very dark.
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