As a child, Cecilie Manz remembers she would always slip away to the studio her ceramicist parents kept in their house to sink her hands into the clay... Today, she has become the Designer of the Year 2018 in Maison & Object Paris.
After earning a diploma in object and furniture design from the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in 1997, Cecilie Manz moved to Finland to further her education at the University of Art and Design in Helsinki. The very next year, she founded her own studio in the heart of Copenhagen. Even though she needs the vibrant feel of the city to feed her creativity, she is still happy to commute back to her suburban home and garden every evening to reconnect with the elements.
Not unlike other Danish designers, the balance she maintains between civilisation and nature is vital to her creative process. Much in the same way that her lifestyle and relationships with family members contribute to fuelling her inspiration. Now in her 40s, the elegant Cecilie emerges today as one of the major figures of Scandinavian design.
Despite her taste for experimenting with new materials and exploring original functions, whenever she sits down at her drawing table the process is invariable. Every new design starts with countless sketches and models and a close dialogue and collaboration with the manufacturer. A visit to the production line may refine the result and match the techniques used in each particular factory.
More than a style, the Scandinavian approach she defends, which is too often distorted in her opinion, “should reflect the actual lifestyle of these countries”. In her work, this is often achieved through subtle play on shades of grey associated with brighter colours.
Her Scandinavian heritage is also self- evident in her effort to strip her creations of any superfluous element, focusing on the essential, oblivious to the fact that her ceaseless pursuit of uncluttered lines presents a new challenge every time.
Her first project, entitled The Ladder – a ladder that doubles as a chair –, was quickly picked up for production by Nils Holger Moormann, after the German designer spotted the prototype in an interior design magazine. The other project that jumpstarted her career was the Caravaggio lamp (2005, with Lightyears). Not only a bestseller but also a longseller! Heeding the call to experiment, Cecilie Manz has worked on such diverse projects as sofa throws, a minibar for a Wallpaper* show, a series of wooden armchairs, a collection of dining tables and chairs for Fritz Hansen, glass vases, and several models of portable speakers for B&O Play – the more affordable brand recently launched by fellow Danes Bang & Olufsen, she has been collaborating with since 2014.