On a sunny November morning, we went to visit the home of industrial designer Sondre Frost Urstad and his wife Karin Knardahl Frost. The house is located in the lovely residential area Giskehagen in Oslo, which has a very special history. When they furnished the library/TV room, they chose our Fri sofa because of its comfort and design. We had a chat about furniture, interior and the history of the special house.
The home was built on 29 acres in 1915, by wholesaler Ole Olsen Bull. He wanted to build a home for himself and his family. Bull was head of the company A/S Stormbull and a significant figure in Norwegian business.
The brothers Carl and Jørgen Berner, both renowned architects, were commissioned to design the main house and side building. When the main house and coachman’s quarters were finished, an elegant garden was laid out. It was the Royal gardener Josef Nickelsen who was given this task.
The painter and decorator Oluf Wold Thorne, best known as one of the Holmsbu painters, was commissioned to decorate the walls in the living room and dining room. The furniture in the living room was designed by Jørgen Berner. He was known as a skilled furniture designer.
Today, the main house has been converted into three large apartments, one of which houses the Frost Urstad family.
– What is your relationship with Hjelle?
My late brother and I established the industrial design office Frost Produkt 20 years ago in Oslo, Sondre Says. We came from England where we had worked and studied and quickly became part of the small, but very positive and forward-looking design community in Norway. We shared a workshop and had several collaborative projects with, among others, Norway Says, which then helped to renew the expression and interest around Hjelle. We do not work with furniture design ourselves beyond complex office chairs for Håg, but have followed Hjelle for some time as it is an exciting Norwegian furniture company. We also have several friends who design for you.
– What was important to you when choosing a sofa?
When furnishing the library/TV room, we looked for a sofa that would be very good for relaxing for the whole family, without it being too bulky or visually dominant. We also didn’t want a generic TV module sofa.
– What made you choose the Fri sofa?
We knew Fri from earlier. It was perceived as refreshing when it was launched and we think it holds up very well. It combines the classic 60s Skandia format with air between the seat and the floor. It has lovely proportions and details such as the span in the outer surfaces and the transition from the seat cushions to the sides. Fri has a contemporary yet timeless expression. As the walls in the room are in a saturated blue colour, we chose a contrasting light grey for the sofa in the comfortable wool fabric Bardal. It is very comfortable to sit on and at the same time it is not perceived as difficult to sit on and rise from. Combined with the matching ottoman, it works like a chaise lounge without being as rigid. Jonas Stokke, who designed the sofa, is also a very dear friend of ours, which makes it extra nice when it’s such a good product.
– How would you describe your interior style and what principles do you think about when you decorate?
Sondre is naturally influenced by his profession, with an interest in design history, what he calls warm minimalism and Norwegian design, all balanced with Karin’s classic, but also playful, touch and inherited objects with emotional value. We have been collecting furniture and objects since we were in our early 20s, and the mix has worked well in everything from post-war workers’ flats, 80s terraced houses and now part of a classic manor house. Well-designed furniture and objects made from good materials can mostly be combined regardless of style and era.