Inside a Designer’s Home
To Susanne Rützou, it is essential that objects have a soul – and that applies both to the sculptural stoneware and porcelain bowls that she creates and to her hand-crafted elm wood kitchen. A more than ten-year-old kitchen from Garde Hvalsøe was one of the reasons she fell for the flat in an architect-designed detached house from 1932 in Copenhagen. Quality of life is a core value, which is evident throughout the designer’s home.
All the senses are activated as one enters the large flat in a detached house designed by the architect Vilhelm Lauritzen in 1932. Full of soul, Susanne Rützou’s home is decorated with heirlooms, objects from travels and her own designs, and light pours through the French teak-framed doors and large windows that overlook the nearby park, thus always keeping nature within sight. In the summer, the doors are wide open to the patio from the kitchen, which is a central room in the designer’s everyday life.
To Susanne Rützou, the place feels like a woodland clearing – in the heart of Copenhagen, and it was love at first sight when she saw the architect-designed house with the industrial expression and clear aesthetic line. Not just Vilhelm Lauritzen’s original design but also the previous owners’ respectful modifications to update the house with a hand-crafted elm wood kitchen and other bespoke solutions in wood that created a coherent universe – and thus a perfect base for a personal home.
‘The hand-crafted kitchen is absolutely perfect for a 1930s house with its modern feel and materiality. It supports the sense of authenticity, establishes an intuitive connection to the surrounding nature, with the elm wood and the visible finger joints – and it already had the most beautiful patina from the combined effect of multiple oil treatments and sunlight when I moved in,’ says Susanne Rützou, who, as a designer, has a special affinity for textures and surfaces.
‘In addition to this rich patina and soul, it is an important quality to me that it is a functional kitchen – with room for all my equipment and hours of cooking. It is a great place to work but also a tidy working space. Living with it on a daily basis is pure quality of life.’
Soul is an important dimension in everything Susanne Rützou creates and lives with, in a balanced combination with functionality, materiality and compositions. It was an important point that she did not need to replace the kitchen or the bathroom when she took over the flat in 2015 but found a high-quality timeless setting that she could adapt to her own style.
The effects are simple, intuitive and inspiring. A vintage 1930s mirror in the large bathroom that perfectly complements the elm wood and provides a visual link to the 1930s. The philodendron plants in the windows that provide a green screen in lieu of curtains. Hand-woven Tuareg mats in the bathroom and kitchen.
Above the dining table, a lamp of her own design that evokes a laboratory feel. And a bold but meaningful transformation of the kitchen island, where she hand-painted the dining section black in order to achieve a sculptural effect in the juxtaposition of the black wooden texture and the black graphite plate as well as adding depth to the space and highlighting the wooden modules behind it.
‘I decoded the house, which is a unique mix of a fairly raw, industrial expression and a traditional gentleman’s study with the many different wood types. It is unpretentious and stately at once,’ says Susanne Rützou, who played with this dynamic in the interior design along with variations on recurring motifs to achieve a calm atmosphere and underscore the consistent and coherent expression.
Several rooms in the flat are furnished with light steel shelving units which Susanne Rützou has had spray-painted in a neutral colour palette that is true to the colour universe of the house itself and the one colour she keeps returning to, RAL 7044. When her original Hans J. Wegner table in wood was damaged and could not be sanded down, she painted it in the silk-grey RAL colour, and today it serves a range of functions, from dining table to working table, because the atmosphere and the light in the kitchen make it a more appealing working space than the office she also set up in the flat.
Displayed on plain steel shelves in the kitchen are some of the sculptural stoneware and porcelain bowls that Susanne Rützou creates in the borderland between design and art. She is dedicated to this creative process because she finds an almost meditative quality in shaping objects with her hands on a scale of 1:1. The objects are a study of formations and structures that are part of nature’s DNA, which makes them all the more beautiful element in the hand-crafted kitchen before they find their way into the world.