About: Rebecca Uth is 44 years old, former head of design at Georg Jensen living and now co-owner and head designer of Ro Collection which she runs along with Ole Kiel, former managing director of Georg Jensen living. I visited Rebecca in her combined home and studio in a huge penthouse in central Copenhagen. Rebecca is 44 years old, she is married and has 3 children.
And about Ro, a shooting star in the design heavens: The first two product lines, vases and “toolboxes” were presented half a year ago and are now shipping – Ro are working with Rebecca Uth in the role of designer as well as with external designers, the vases are made in collaboration with Nina Erichsen, the toolboxes in cooperation with Aurélien Barbry. Ro has MANY new products in the pipeline, among others a series of ceramic bowls that Rebecca has designed, and metal baskets are on the way; salt and pepper sets, cooking utensils for outdoor kitchens, a chair, a hat stand, a glass table and pillows are just some of the products already developed, and even more things exist on the drawing board.
Ro is the Danish word for serenity, calmness and piece of mind.
Rebecca Uth about:
Her goals and dreams: For my part I think that of course Ro should be a profitable business, but I am mostly concerned with the substance and you will never find me in a collaboration where economic reasons keep me from speaking my mind – my husband and I aren’t bound by large fixed expenses, we still remain free, in that way I think that we live almost like when we were young – fortunately my partner Ole is also part of Ro, he’s a businessman, driven by a competitive gene, and would like to grow – our combination is quite fortunate and ensures that both content and economy are prioritized.
On design as communication: Production, and finding good partnerships for production is easy for me to handle, I have suitcases full of good experiences. At first when we developed the Ro concept, my thinking was that we should create a range of products that could be produced in Denmark, but after we discussed it and I thought again, I realized that such a dogma would be quite pointless for us – unless we want to isolate ourselves on an island and just consume what we produce locally, and that model I don’t believe in.
Design, communications and trade are some of the things that have created the Denmark that we know and love, and a design-oriented audience is international.
Ro is a core – and we spread like ripples in the water.
– We manufacture where we find the competence – and sometimes that is far away, it is like that because we in this part of the world haven’t valued having production facilities here –
With hat said, it is a great pleasure for me to communicate through design, not just through the finished product and in relation to the consumers of the product, but also in the relationship with the companies that I’m involved with during product development and production, wherever they are in the world. By travelling out with our ideas and by sharing our knowledge rather than isolating ourselves, I can see that we add something to the world – the workers at the factory in Poland that produce the glass vases definitely have a richer and less monotonous working day now that we have challenged their technique and aesthetics.
About her challenges: While I’m not uncomfortably challenged by design and production, there are of course areas I have never worked with because I come from a large well-oiled machine with an existing distribution.
Sales, PR and marketing are new territories for me, and we are slowly finding our legs. Where some companies talk about conquering markets, we are just talking about selling to the people around the world who share our aesthetics and sense of quality, we are asking for quite a small bit, 1 % of the total market, if we think globally, is a great many people…
Here in the beginning we have only exhibited at Danish trade fairs – but we have international ambitions, and introducing ourselves by exhibiting at a plethora of trade shows is a little like having a travelling circus, and I honestly don’t know if that’s right for these times – there is no serenity at fairs, they follow an old-fashioned rhythm where things become stale after six months and that goes against the ideas behind the concept.
Ro’s products are going to be on the market for a long time. Our concept is growing slowly and the product slowly grows in the customer’s mind – we are not worried.
About functionality and aesthetics: We do have our roots in the Scandinavian design tradition where we pay tribute to function. Sometimes I get the urge to do away with functionalism the urge to create things that are just beautiful and whose sole raison is that they are decorative – Ro could easily accommodate elements like that.
When you make a thing with a function, on the other hand, it has to work. I mean, a tea pot that always drips is annoying, and if you are to tolerate dripping it must have something very special to offer.
By contrast, if we create something that is pure aesthetics we cannot hide behind the function –and what my eye loves, some will find challenging or downright ugly.
About one-offs versus mass production: Just as Ro can contain elements that are more decorative than functional, we can also accommodate one-offs or very small series. If a product is important for our overall concept but not suitable for industrial production, then we will find other ways, we have several projects going with artists –
The important thing for us is that the products are honest, that they are what they are, you shouldn’t mass produce pseudo-one offs and there is no reason to hand make a small run of something that can be mass produced. One must respect the inherent premises of things.
About role models in the design industry: Perhaps it is almost a cliché, but Vitra are still doing it quite well.