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DESIGNERS

Nicoline Durup

This interior designer approaches sustainability as a process

DURUP is a Denmark-based interior brand and design house, known for producing bespoke curtains and, more recently, decorative pillows. Founder Nicoline Durup talks with us about her fashion background’s influence on her brand, her company’s mission to become more sustainable, and about her upcoming collaboration with Green Collective.

Green Collective (GC)
We are so excited for your pillow collection with Green Collective! Could you talk a little bit about that?

Nicoline Durup (ND)
We sell curtains made of material that is made of plastic bottles from the oceans. And I just thought that the Green Collective mission and idea was really good. So I thought, ‘Okay, why not try to be more sustainable with a collaboration with them [Green Collective]?’, because we care about the environment. And we aim to do better in terms of being sustainable in the future.

GC
You mentioned your curtains are made from recycled bottles. Could you tell us a bit more about the sustainable fabrics and materials that you use, and how you source those?

ND
I would love to do that. I just want to mention before going into that, that it’s important for me to say that at Durup, we’re not a 100% sustainable brand. But I think the important message, also with the collaboration, is that we are aiming to do better. To me, being sustainable is not a black and white question, at least not at this point. Because being sustainable can also be a question of, in your everyday life, for example, to choose not to buy strawberries during winter. It’s not a question of being sustainable or not. So that’s also why I said yes to doing this collaboration because it’s a way for Durup to take a step further into this sustainable arena.

But anyway, back to your question of the curtains made of plastic bottles. It was one of the first products that we introduced, because there was an agent here in Copenhagen that introduced me to the fabrics, and I was just really surprised that a fabric made of plastic bottles could be that beautiful. And in the same way, I was also surprised that no one else here in Copenhagen or Denmark had a focus on fabrics that were sustainable. And of course, I saw a business opportunity, but then I thought, ‘Okay, why not bring them in?’ and market them more aggressively than some of the normal curtain fabrics. There is for sure a wave of sustainability right now. So a lot of consumers care about the environment. But basically, they’re made of plastic bottles that are from around the world; an organization is taking them up from the ocean, and then a company called Bionic Yarn produces the yarn that my fabric supplier buys. And then they turn it into a beautiful fabric that we can use for curtains. And soon for pillows too.

GC
I appreciate you being upfront about the transition to using more sustainable materials. And that’s important, too, because a lot of designers, whether they’re making textiles or jewelry, are trying to find ways to be more sustainable. So what does sustainability mean to you?

ND
We can all agree that we need to care about the environment. But in everyday life, it doesn’t make sense for me not to have a car; it doesn’t make sense for me not to buy a mango, because my two year old is screaming for a mango. Sustainability to me is being able to take small steps towards a more sustainable life. With Durup, it’s a question of trying to do what we can within the brand DNA we have.

"I love the way in the morning, when you choose your outfit, you very much choose it depending on what mood you are in. Or, you can use your sneakers with your dress, or you can simply use your sneakers with a pair of jeans for a different look. And I want to bring that thought into interiors as well."

GC
Can you talk about how your background in fashion inspires your current work?

ND
I have worked on different fashion magazines, and I’ve worked for Stella McCartney in London. I really love the fast pace that fashion has, and I love the way that you are not afraid of mixing and matching. And that’s what I’m trying to bring into Durup, as an interior brand. But you know, when talking about fashion, it’s also very much a question of mood. I love the way in the morning, when you choose your outfit, you very much choose it depending on what mood you are in. Or, you can use your sneakers with your dress, or you can simply use your sneakers with a pair of jeans for a different look. And I want to bring that thought into interiors as well. So, dressing yourself is one thing, but dressing your home can be the same, in a way. I know that you’re not replacing your sofa every day, you stick to the same, but I think you can really play within interiors too, and that’s what I want to bring to life with Durup.

GC
I think that makes a lot of sense. You do a lot of custom work for clients. How do you work with them to bring their vision to life?

ND
It’s important always to understand the customer’s needs and everything, but I really prefer to meet the customers in person. We really have a bespoke, and a very client-focused service. So, either I visit them in their home or they come to me. We have a kind of a showroom here in Copenhagen, where they can come and have a look at all the textiles. But in fact, I prefer to come to them, to their homes, to get a feeling of who they are, and their dreams and visions and everything. Their home is their personality, too. So, it’s to understand who these people are in real life, and how can we make this come true in their homes, too. It’s not a question of pushing boundaries, but I love to see if I can move them a little bit. But of course, I still want to be honest and so if people don’t like colors of course I will not come and suggest to them to have a pink curtain or a neon-colored pillow. But I think that goes back to fashion, because in fashion, you’re not that afraid of mixing materials or to do some prints. I just think that we have a mentality saying that, when it comes to interiors, all things need to be a little safe because you’re looking at it every day and blah, blah, blah. I like the idea of, maybe it can make you happy to come home and to look at the very beautiful silk, the weaved curtain with, I don’t know, swans on it, instead of just white cotton.

GC
So do you think because of your fashion background, you’re really drawn to prints and bright colors?

ND
Yeah, of course. And also to mix and match. That’s for sure. And another thing is, it’s also important that I represent the brand myself. I like to dress up a little bit when I meet customers. But I also want to represent the message, ‘Okay, I’m here in a pink shirt, and I know it’s winter and I know it’s gray outside, but maybe it’s what makes you smile today.’

GC
So it seems like you put a lot of importance on – whether it’s your fashion or your interior – how much that can affect your mood, and affect your day.

ND
Yeah, exactly. But with that being said, I know that if you invest in expensive curtains or a table or whatever, you will probably stick to that table for some years. But again, I like the thought of, ‘What if we chose the red one? Would it really be a disaster? Or what if we mix it? You want your cupboard to be black and your whatever to be white, but what if the pillows were pink?’ They would be easier to replace in a month or two or six months, for example. And maybe it would add something to your home and interior style in general. And that’s the thought I like to play with.

"I love the history in things, and it makes your home more alive, I think, when you add old vintage pieces to new, modern furniture."

GC
Aside from the products that you actually make yourself like the curtains and the pillows, do you find yourself recommending vintage items to your clients?

ND
Yeah, of course. Because at Durup, we’re looking into the past and we’re looking into the future and, I know it sounds maybe a little bit ridiculous, but we don’t want to be handcuffed by a specific style or age or anything. So I love to recommend to clients to combine things, and of course, not to throw away… maybe if they have a cabinet or whatever, they can paint it, for example. I had a customer the other day and she had a big drawer, but it was not very nice in color or anything; it was from her grandmother so it meant a lot to her. But she, in a way, didn’t like it. And I was like, ‘Why don’t we paint it and then place it here instead?’ I love vintage pieces too. I love the history in things, and it makes your home more alive, I think, when you add old vintage pieces to new, modern furniture.

GC
I love that. And that really plays to the sustainability angle as well. You know, less waste, and reusing and upcycling.

ND
Exactly. So, that’s a way of being sustainable too. And in terms of curtains, they live long, normally, because we don’t have a tradition of changing the curtains that often. And a curtain choice is a piece that you keep for a long time, at least if you stay in your current location.

KF
Definitely. It’s important to see how brands are transitioning and working towards being sustainable, and hopefully that will influence other brands.

ND
Yes, exactly. Exactly.

By Kristin Forte

Shop Designer
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