It’s such a good idea, it’s a wonder no one did it before. In 2014, two Danes fed up with the cost of high-end kitchens started making Ikea fronts designed by well-known architects and designers.
“There was always this problem of people wanted a cool kitchen but never wanted to pay the price for a carpenter to make a kitchen,” explained cofounder and CEO Jeppe Christensen, who has a business background and at the time was a silent partner in a design-build company.
So Christensen and cofounder Michael Andersen, a former project manager for Bjarke Ingels Group, approached three of the most famous Danish architect firms — Bjarke Ingels Group, Henning Larsen Architects and Norm Architects — and to their delight and surprise all three said yes.
The Copenhagen-based firm has since added designs from more design-world greats, such as Sigurd Larsen, and shipped thousands of kitchens, bathrooms and case goods around the world. In May, Reform opened in Brooklyn and in June in Berlin.
Finding the Brooklyn outpost was a bit of serendipity. A mutual client introduced them to Modera, a flooring company with a Scandinavian founder, and now they share space in an old factory building at 22 Waverly Avenue in Clinton Hill (or, more precisely, Wallabout) just outside the Navy Yard.
“A normal kitchen company would probably go for an address in Manhattan but we see ourselves as a destination — more like a cozy place you want to hang out,” said Christensen. It’s a place to get a quick hit of Scandinavia, with well-designed objects from other Scandinavian makers on display.
Reform joins a handful of companies that design fronts for Ikea cabinets, including SemiHandmade, Superfront and A.S. Helsingö and Plykea.
The typical Reform kitchen costs about $5,000. Door and countertop materials include wood, brass, concrete and Forbo linoleum and come in a wide range of colors. The company’s best-selling line is its own and its first, Basis, inspired by midcentury Danish design.
“Scandinavian design has always been minimalistic in some kind of way,” Christensen said. “It’s not form over function or function over form, it’s well balanced.”
As to why Scandinavian design is having a resurgence in the U.S. recently, he mused: “Life needs to be maybe a bit more simple, it does not need to be overdone. People want that simple life. If you surround yourself with great design, you also feel happier.”
[Photos by Reform]
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