The Danes are on the march
By Coleby Nicholson
What is it about Danish design? This small country produces some amazing products. COLEBY NICHOLSON looks at another Danish jewellery range.
Pandora may be the most prominent Danish jewellery name in Australia but there are many more: Georg Jensen, Skagen and Trollbeads are all firmly embedded in the minds of Australian consumers. The latest entrant is Ole Lynggaard, a brand that aims to repeat the success of its Danish cousins.
Though new to Australia, Ole Lynggaard is far from a company in its infancy, as Charlotte Lynggaard explains: “My father started in Copenhagen in 1963 with his own little collection. Since then, he has built the company, which now employs 75 people manufacturing jewellery in Denmark. I joined 20 years ago but, of course, I’ve always been there as a daughter. My brother is in the company also, and now, my husband, too.”
The company has recently expanded, most notably into Japan in 2006 and China in 2008, so the decision to enter Australia’s smaller market seems peculiar, until one considers the recent connection between Denmark and Australia.
“Everyone always says that Australia has so many things in common with the Scandinavian people; although it’s so far away, we still have the same way of thinking,” Lynggaard says. “Maybe it’s also because of the new crowned Princess (Tasmania’s-own Mary Elizabeth Donaldson) that we have been thinking more about Australia.”
The success of other Danish brands also plays an important part in the decision: “We have been very successful in Scandinavia, so we would like to show the world what we have to offer,” Lynggaard says, “and I think Australia because we have been talking to Australian people coming to Denmark, and they say, ‘Why aren’t you in Australia?’ So we said, ‘Yeah, it’s far away, but maybe we should be thinking about it,’” Lynggaard says.
Apart from the emotional connection that the two countries have enjoyed in recent years via Princess Mary, there are also commercial reasons that play an important part in the strategy.
Martin Gilsby, managing director, Ole Lynggaard explains that the structure of the Australian jewellery market is very similar to Denmark: “The retail structure is not that different – Australia has a lot of independently-owned retail stores. It hasn’t really got these big chain stores like many other countries in Asia and Europe. What we’re good at, in Scandinavia, is dealing with independently-owned, small retailers. We’re good at knowing what they need,” Gilsby says.
“So the structure of the market is more or less the same, which does make it a whole lot easier than in China, for instance, or in Japan. We’re used to dealing directly with retailers.”
Because it is not looking for mass distribution, Ole Lynggaard can be selective when choosing stockists: “We’re not targeting a lot of shops,” Gilsby says, “as we need to be really careful that they’re going into the right stores to begin with. We don’t want a lot of stores and then have to cut half of them.
“We want the right locations, with good local partners that do what we want to do – they have to understand the brand concept and they have to like it – and then we can help them with the materials and the brand stories, advertising and marketing, to lift-up the store basically because we’re a high-end jewellery brand.”
Ole Lynggaard is equally attentive to controlling its growth: “It’s very important that we grow very slowly and that we’re always aware that the jewellery you get is exactly the same,” Lynggaard says. “It’s because it is a family business – our own name is written on everything so we are very proud of the jewellery and don’t want somebody just to do something (when their hearts are not in it).”
She explains that there are essentially two collections under the Ole Lynggaard brand – her father’s and her own, which she describes as more feminine. “Sometimes my designs are more feminine, with the flowers and things. I also like to do more sculpturing, but he is very much into sculpture pieces. So sometimes you can see the differences.”
Lynggaard trained as a goldsmith for four years and then went abroad: “I was in Switzerland working for a year with fine jewellery and I’ve also worked in the United States, Greece and around Paris for a year. I lived in Paris for three years. For me, it’s very important to learn the technical part of it.”
Ole Lynggaard’s Sweet Drops bracelet.
She describes her father, now 73 years old, as a person who “really likes the quality; he is very much into his design, and has always worked very hard. He still works and won’t stop until he is completely satisfied.”
To exemplify this, 43 year old Lynggaard points-out that her father invented and patented the revolutionary flexible lock in 1979 – a clasp system that first enabled many designs to be changed and combined. The lock gave the wearer the possibility to mix and match jewellery with different pendants, chains, nec klaces or add-ons, enabling many variations.
Today, the prevailing trends all support Ole Lynggaard´s original idea to design flexible jewellery. Lynggaard is quick to stress that a patented system or product is no guarantee of success: “The jewellery still has to be good; you can have the best patent in the world but if no one likes the jewellery, well…”
She explains that managing the brand is just as important as managing the quality of design and manufacture of the range: “The aim is to provide the consumer with an experience,” she adds. “You’re not only buying a piece of jewellery; you’re getting a whole feeling about the purchase. Packaging is very important. Our packaging is not the packaging that you would throw away. It’s packaging that you can use as a little travel bag or as a nice thing in your bedroom. It is very important to think it all through, and everything is made by us – the designs, packaging, and how it’s made.”
Ole Lynggaard promotes itself as quintessential “Scandinavian design”, something Lynggaard describes as “very clean, with small details: “It’s a little bit inspired by the Japanese people, also – the Japanese and the Scandinavian have some things in common.”
It is this design that is perhaps the defining ingredient in Ole Lynggaard’s unique identity and, for this reason, much energy is invested to ensure design concepts are timeless.
“It’s important that a piece of jewellery is not only very nice right now,” Lynggaard explains, “but that you don’t get tired of it, and that you can wear it in 20 years, 30 years and even 50 years. That’s a good design, I think.”
DANISH DESIGN DEFINEDDanish design is a style that came into popularity in the mid-20th century and is usually applied to industrial design, furniture and household objects. In the late 1940s, shortly after the end of the Second World War, conditions in Denmark were ideally suited to success in design. The emphasis was on furniture but architecture, silver, ceramics, glass and textiles also benefited from the trend.
Denmark's late industrialisation combined with a tradition of high-quality craftsmanship formed the basis of gradual progress towards industrial production. After the end of the war, Europeans were keen to find novel approaches such as light-wood furniture from Denmark. Support in Denmark for freedom of individual expression assisted the cause. (Source: Wikipedia.)
What and where is Scandinavia?
Scandinavian design is another oft used term. But where, or what, is Scandinavia?
Scandinavia is a historical and geographical region in northern Europe that includes, and is named after, the Scandinavian Peninsula.
It consists of the kingdoms of Norway, Sweden, and Denmark but sometimes the term includes Finland and Iceland; however, in Scandinavia, the term is used unambiguously for Denmark, Norway and Sweden, which share a mutually intelligible language (dialect), ethnic composition and have close cultural and historic bonds to a degree that Scandinavians may be considered one people.
Regardless of how the term Scandinavia is used outside the region, the terms Nordic countries and Nordic region are used officially and unambiguously to identify the nations of Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Iceland.
Posted September 28, 2009