We sat down with Nina Michelsen, interior architect at Michelsens, Miguel Garcia, CEO Liquidfloors and T-Michael, bespoke tailor/designer/artist and co-owner of Norwegian Rain. Last year Michael refurbished his apartment in Bergen, Norway, with Michelsens doing the design planning, interior architecture and project managing. The apartment is truly a beautiful compact living project - all about wood products, flooring technology and the use of the space that is available. The finished product is the result of a common design understanding in collaboration with client T-Michael, hand-picked solutions, and materials.
We were wondering what made Nina chose Liquidfloors for this project.
Nina: We had seen the Liquidfloors products on several fairs through the years, and then asked if we could bring this product to Norway. We needed one project to start up with, and once this project with T-Michael came along, we knew instantly this was the right project to introduce to the Norwegian marked.
Miguel: I truly love what the floor does to this place, it opens everything up.
Michael: It’s amazing. The bounce of the light… there’s a lot of light coming through, but with a darker floor everything would just be sucked away. But the light just hits back up, and everything feels much, much brighter.
Nina: Yes, one thing is the visual part, the other thing is the feeling of it. You really must experience how it is to walk barefoot on it.
Miguel: It’s very tactile, you need to experience it. It’s only a surface when you see it, but you also need to feel it. In our showroom we let people take off their shoes to walk on the floor, an experience they don’t forget!
Michael: It feels totally different from any other floors. A friend of mine described it as the feeling you get in a tropical country when you walk on the floor, because it’s neither cold nor hot, it just feels right when you walk on it. Usually in floors in Scandinavia it’s either cold or it’s too warm.
Nina: It also got kind of a futuristic appeal to it, it’s something very different.
Miguel: Yes, it has this positive future vibe to it, especially in the lighter tones.
Michael: Do people go for darker ones?
Miguel: It happens yes, we did a project with a black bathroom where the bathtub is in the same material lowered to the floor, and it’s spectacular.
Michael: Get out of here! I can see my future projects!
It’s interesting to know how Michael sees the connection in his apartment and how he uses materials himself in his profession. How are materials and interior design combined in this project?
Michael: Materials are very important to me; you look at fabrics and they speak to you somehow. Everything we’ve chosen here, were supposed to fit with what Michelsens knew of me from before. And for me, this floor was amazing. Just so we go back; I bought some Douglas fir from Canada that was reclaimed from a bridge, that we used for the store in Tokyo. And the guy said he had lots of floors from the same bridge, and if I wanted, I could buy it for my flat. So that was my idea to put in to start with. I spoke to Michelsens and I mentioned it, but they said “no, no, no” we got this floor for you. And I’m so glad I haven’t got a bridge on my floor now! It would have been a good story too, but it’s not the same story. This is just much cooler.
The difference in materials tells you a little bit of who ever created that product in a way, the more natural the product is, the more honest the results are. But at the same time technology should be woven into what you do, like we do in Norwegian Rain. We don’t use natural fabrics, because natural fabrics wouldn’t cut it, so we go for that extremely high tec fabrics that you know will give you the results, and then you combine it with your natural horn buttons the shearling, just to balance that somehow. It’s all about finding the balance between tradition and innovation.
Nina: The details for Michael is buttons, stitches, it’s the inside of a suit or a jacket, and you’ve always had these small elements that are important. And it’s the same for us, it’s a hardware, it’s the details, the hinges, and handles.
Michael: It’s the conversation pieces, that’s what people will see, that’s what make people fall in love in whatever it is you know. It’s all about just get that element right, and you don’t need too many.
Nina, as an interior architect, how would you describe the design freedom this floor gives you?
Nina: It’s the very base. It’s the opposite of what Michael has done before, he has always used this darker toned wood, and we knew it was coming in some way, so when starting with the light floor, we added this curved dark panel, and the two of them combined so nice. The load-bearing design element in the apartment is walls clad with wood veneer in an organic form that follows through the space. With this, a sense of space has been accomplished, whilst at the same time answered the requirement for functionality in each room and supply all the necessary technical installations designed and built in the main element in natural wood.
Michael: An art installation, that’s what it is. It’s monumental, and that’s what makes this room what it is as a contrast to the floor.
Miguel, could you say something about maintenance and wear and tear?
Miguel: At first when it’s installed it is super matt and soft. And when using it, it gets a soft patina on it, it actually grows to be more beautiful when using it. Its very strong, as you can see there’s no marks on the floor even though it’s been in use for about a year.
Another important aspect regarding the floor is that whenever you want to update it, or even just change the color, it’s perfectly possible. It’s just a topcoat that we renew - the floors is updateable.
Michael: Miguel, how do I take care of the floor?
Miquel: Clean it with water, plain water. If you do have stains on the floor, we have our own products for maintenance, but it is important not to use too much soap.
What are your thoughts about the Scandinavian marked?
Miguel: I really love Scandinavian design with the wood and the different shades to it. I think the Liquidfloor floors make the materials speak much more for themselves, they give it a contrast without taking too much of the attention away. They are not screaming, instead they make objects come alive in many ways I find.
Michael, what does the floor do to the atmosphere, and how does it complement the interior architecture?
Michael: I look at the floor as sort of a canvas, where I place my elements on it. As I said, this space is full of things that has been acquired over so many years, and it tells a story of my life in a way. So, this is like a canvas where I can put all those things in. I’m not out to create a house that is minimalistic, and where there are just things in there because they are placed there to look good you know. Things are here because that’s what makes my life complete, and this floor gives it that sort of balance in a way. Again, it’s a canvas for me.
Miguel, could you say something about Liquidfloors view on sustainability?
Miguel: Whatever it is that you make, sustainability has become far more than a detail. As Michael talked about earlier here, I think there is nothing wrong with technology, only if it’s to be put to good use. When you put technology to use on endurable products that will stand the test of time, then I think it’s a very good use for it, both for clothing and interior materials. High quality are made to endure and standard test of time, so I think the ecological part for us is very important, we are constantly striving at the greenest possible materials, which we achieve, and I’m quite proud of that. The product installed here is completely solvent free.
Michael: Most of the time when people talk about ecofriendly sustainability, it’s just being thrown out there, and it doesn’t make sense anymore. It’s important to get the differences of people that pollute and people that strive to create products that will last forever, everything we do shouldn’t have a negative footprint if we can help it. It’s a fine balance. You don’t need to ask a tailor if its environment friendly, because that is exactly what he does – one jacket for one person forever.