It is always thrilling to move behind the scenes of another person’s creative processes and discover the impetus behind his or her creations. Studying the spaces and routines that nurture an artist or a craftsman can be a key to understanding not only the product, but also the creative approach itself.

After a few unsettled years attempting to make a career out of jobs that did not spark his spirit, Morten Høeg-Larsen turned to the trees for inspiration. Or to be exact, he turned himself into a carpenter’s apprentice, a choice that simultaneously stilled his inner restlessness and set him on a winding path that took him through the streets of his native Copenhagen – where he did street carpentry at an outdoor pop-up shop in Jægersborggade – all the way to the Swedish countryside, outside Ystad in the south, where his permanent (indoor) workshop and home now stands. He has named his project simply Sløjd, meaning woodwork, a not-so-subtle reference to the roots of the craft itself.

His exodus from the creative bustle of the city to pastoral, infinitely more silent lands has encouraged him to truly listen to his intuition and to deeply respect the source of his success – the history of his craft and its relationship with the forests themselves. His massive barns house his archives of Nordic wood as well as a wood-drying oven custom-built for his work, and of course provide the space needed to experiment with new designs. Out in the country, with the distinct voice of the landscape calling out to you, sometimes even listening to music feels out of place and distracting, the carpenter says.

With a steadily growing popularity that has turned Sløjd into an award-winning company with dealers throughout Denmark, London, and the Netherlands, one might worry that Høeg-Larsen’s chosen country pace of life might not meet the requirements imposed by the growing demand for his designs. But one significant reminder of his roots suggests he has not lost his city edge – a picture sitting on the window sill by graffiti artist Futura 2000, who he says “never sold out in spite of his success.” This dedication to artistic vision and integrity is the force of life for Sløjd, whose designs are all tagged with the region from which they were sourced, a practice inspired by the focus on foraging in food communities – Nordic and otherwise.

Continue reading in Oak volume Three