There’s no denying influencer and designer Fredrik Risvik has incredible style. Not only an expert in all things fashion, Fredrik’s keen interest in all things beautiful extends to his home décor. How does he balance his love for beautiful things with living sustainably?
When I moved into my first apartment, I had an idea of what furniture, chairs and shelving I wanted. Some items had too high a price tag, while others were more affordable (or at least a better price because I bought vintage versions). Some of those pieces now have a higher price because vintage versions are sought after and have increased in value. I managed to get them early enough and I got a few good deals. At that point in time (ten years ago) these weren’t necessarily sustainable choices – it was more a case of me buying the things I really wanted and having the patience to save up for them. This way of thinking meant I lived with very few things for a while. I had the essentials (well, some people might have had to sit on the floor for a while due to the lack of chairs) and the enjoyment of getting something I’d saved up for was worth the sacrifice of living without.
A big change came about when my girlfriend and I bought a house together. We now had extra space and more rooms in need of furniture. We didn’t consciously make decisions based on sustainable choices – our personal interest in quality classic pieces meant we subconsciously made those choices. This was 8 years ago, before the subject of sustainability became what it is today. We now know so much more on the matter, but even back then I never liked the buy and throw away mentality.
A vintage Eames DSR chair (from the original Herman Miller production) and a coffee table (an old George Nelson platform bench by Herman Miller) I’d bought when living in my first apartment came with us, and my girlfriend brought her sofa and bed. At that point that was pretty much all we had – 110m2 of space with more or less no furniture. We saved up to buy a pair of Hans J. Wegner ch24 chairs (also known as wishbone chairs) and got a pair of Eames DSR chairs for our dining area. The dining table we made using black steel frames from Hay and a tabletop which we made ourselves (it’s still going strong 8 years later). Looking at old photos from our home, the living room was really empty – just a sofa, the coffee table and a TV. We also made our own TV bench using Eames LTR metal frames and heavy 4x4 wooden blocks for the top. This was in our home for 6 years until we gave it to my mom last year (after multiple people offered to buy it). Choosing vintage or used pieces is a good way to be more sustainable when buying furniture. These pieces also come with much more life and character than their newer counterparts.
A conscious way of living
Instead of buying cheap temporary items we saved up for what we wanted. We lived for years without many items, which meant we didn’t waste money on things that would later have been thrown out and replaced with the versions we really wanted. The first shelving system we bought was by Vitsoe. They have been making their 606 universal systems for 60 years and you can still pair the 60-year old version with today’s version. That says a lot about the quality and how timeless the design is. Dieter Rams did a thing or two right! This system was a dream of mine for so long and I still feel happy every time I look at it. Most recently we bought our first setup for the living room, added a shelving system to our kitchen and hallway, and added a small setup to our baby girls' room.
We chose this shelving system not only because of the quality and timeless design – when we move it will be easy to set up because of its modular design. This must be one of the most sustainable furniture solutions and it will always fit our way of living.
The second shelving system we bought was the USM Haller system. This is also a modular shelving system with a focus on high quality and the ability to customise it to your individual needs. This is also something we’ll keep for life and take with us to future homes. We loved the design and functionality so much we bought another shelf for our living room which serves as a media shelf under our tv. These are the products and pieces I look for when buying new things for our home – buying less but better. With both Vitsoe and USM Haller, a planner assists you in ensuring the setup meets your needs and it fits the space you’re buying it for. This eliminates the chance of buying something you’re not happy with and helps you put together a solution based on what you have for when you move homes. Classics like these are a safe choice and will never feel outdated. USM Haller also comes in a range of colours.
Montana is the latest addition to our home. Our second living room upstairs (previously our master bedroom) is a place where we can relax and watch TV in the evenings without disturbing our baby girl. Montana is also a modular system, comes in every colour you can think of and can be combined how you want them. The system offers endless possibilities and a personal setup we are super happy with. Looking back at the patient waiting game we went through to get this room finished we now have a system made in Denmark with a focus on environmental manufacturing. It was one of the first Danish furniture manufacturers to be awarded the official EU Ecolabel.
Home is where the heart is
It's not only your choice of furniture that makes your home a home. I started collecting ceramic bowls as well as dinner and breakfast plates from a Swedish company when I was 15 (I’m now 33). The collection is now discontinued which makes us appreciate it even more. I’ve also been collecting different ceramics from our travels. This mismatched way of collecting ceramics is playful and the memories add something special to the collection. We support small businesses and studios which is more sustainable – objects are often made in smaller batches and buying local keeps your carbon footprint to a minimum. We now have our favourite cups for coffee and tea, and snack bowls that make the kid in me enjoy the candy even more because I know the bowl was bought on our first trip to Berlin together as a couple. We have items all around our house which are both decorative objects and functional items. We use them daily, depending on the mood we’re in. I truly believe the beauty of the item makes me enjoy my coffee even more.
Living a sustainable life
No one will ever be perfect when it comes to living sustainably, but every step along the way helps. Some do a great job at recycling while others make better choices when buying furniture and supporting companies that produce design classics. We strive to make well thought out decisions when adding anything new to our home and hope to never have to throw anything away. I recently discovered a new global community that has launched in Norway called Aurora Sustainability. They create content which inspires millennials to make more sustainable choices in their everyday life. Shifting to more environmentally friendly habits can be challenging. There’s not too much information out there about which brands you could choose to lower your carbon footprint, or easy to implement tricks such as changing your washing detergents or buying less food packaged in plastic. Aurora provides just this and if you take their quiz you’ll easily understand your sustainability profile and how you could improve your daily habits.
How can you be more sustainable with your furniture choices?
Look for products that use ethically sourced and environmentally friendly materials that are built to last for many years. These are important steps when creating a sustainable end product. My main focus when it comes to sustainable living is furniture. My advice if you’re looking for new pieces for your home is not to rush. I believe the time it takes to save up for something gives you time to decide if you really want it – instead of jumping on a trend you later want replaced by a newer trend. My interest in interiors means I’ve read a lot about the designers and designs – which makes me more attached to my pieces and cherish them more. I have chairs at home that I view more as design objects than functional pieces because I love the design and can remember the process of getting there. I love looking at one chair I have because of the beautiful shadow it creates as the natural light changes during the day. This specific chair is the Bertoia diamond chair by Harry Bertoia. I bought a vintage one to ensure I got one from the right era. I spent so much time cleaning it because its last owner had used it outdoors.
When buying these items, I don’t know if they’ll be put "here" or "there", but rather that the overall aesthetic of my style will come out from buying the stuff I like. A good mix of vintage well used items with a scratch here and there goes so well with new and more polished surfaces. These pieces have made our home what it is today and I’m glad we didn’t have money to buy it all at once. It would never have been the same. We’ve spent almost 10 year making our home what it is today, and we’re still not done. We have so many fun periods to look back on and now we’re making it childproof and suitable for our new way of living as a family with a baby girl who is the boss.
Below you can see the results of my carbon footprint
It was really fun to get the detailed results and I can already see where we can make improvements. I thought we would have a better overall score, but it turns out we use too many emissions on transport. I might have overestimated the distance we travel, but the important thing is we’ll be more conscious with our car use in the future. I also think we can improve our recycling and we aim to do better here as well. Our energy use scored really well which is thanks to our new electrical company and how they made us aware of living smarter. I look forward to redoing the test in a few weeks and seeing how my score has changed after making a few small lifestyle changes.