Spreading beautiful, comfortable lighting to the world
The new Deichman Library next to the Opera House in the center of Oslo has lamps and furniture designed by the startup Northern. In the Norwegian Embassy in Kabul in Afghanistan, they have a lamp that other embassies would love to have, also made by Northern. Their furniture and lamps can also be found at the new Golf Hotell Miklagard, close to the Gardermoen Airport.
The 46-year-old founder, designer, and CEO of Northern is Ove Rogne. He was born in Narvik, north of the Arctic Circle. He received a master’s degree in business and economics at the Norwegian School of Economics in Bergen. Later, he worked in management consulting. When he was 30, Rogne, a colleague, and a chef were all getting a little tired of their current jobs. They wanted new challenges, so they decided to start a design and lamp company.
The company was founded in 2005 in Oslo. According to a presentation on a network meeting on Teams, their first office was on a balcony at Bislett, close to the famous ice-skating stadium. They wanted to do something different that would also appeal to an international audience.
When they had their first product ready, they went from store to store trying to sell it. They used their own private cars to make deliveries. Over the last 15 years, the design company has grown into a modern lighting, furniture, and home accessories company. They sell through stores and digital marketing. Today, 65% of sales are exported to more than 50 countries. Their sales coordinator has a bachelor’s degree in international marketing from the United States.
The No. 1 product in the United States is Moo. Moo is a full-scale wall mounted (fake) Norwegian moose head light. It may be used for both indoor and outdoor decoration. The figuratively shaped lamp body is made of polyresin materials, that gives a smooth and transparent flow of light. The bulbs placed inside the horns add extra elements of soft, sparkling, and translucent light effects to the lamp. The inspiration behind the Moo lamp was found in northern Norway, in the scenic Helgeland, where both the designers have cabins with actual moose passing by.
The Moo was launched at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF) at the Javits Center in New York City in the middle of May 2016. The Inside Norway stand had three Norwegian exhibitors. More than 30,000 professionals visited. The fair opened to the general public on May 17, a date with great significance to any Norwegian.
Norway is traditionally a raw material and ocean-based country. The Danes lead the way when it comes to finished consumer goods in Scandinavia. Finished consumer goods in Denmark represent 25% of exports, with Sweden close behind at 24%, and Norway behind with only 6%. This is a challenge. The United States is Norwegian Furniture and Design’s fourth most important market representing 10% of Norwegian exports.
Northern is inspired by Norwegian nature. The products fit nicely into foreign homes, where many people live in crowded cities with little space. On the Teams meeting, Rogne said they wanted to include the Nordic secure feeling, quality materials, and most important they wanted to bring along hjemmehygge, which translated to home comfort.
Rogne’s tips for creating a warm and welcoming home “is getting the lighting right in any room. This not only helps us to see better but feel better, too. Use your lamps to create light and shape. Think about what you want to illuminate and what you want to direct attention away from. Avoid a flat spread of light. It needs to come from above, below, as well as the side.”
Like many others this last year, Rogne has spent long periods of time in his apartment trying to juggle work and home time all within the same space. In these difficult and challenging times, he thinks, according to the company home page, “that we have all realized just how important our homes are, and that the things that surround us need to bring joy and comfort, too. Most of all, we need to learn to cherish the things around us more, stop this cycle of mass consumption, and start to buy less, but invest in better.”
The company was awarded the Exporter of the Year in 2019 by the design industry in Norway. At the occasion, Rogne said he was “happy to place Norway on the design map internationally and show that newcomers like ourselves can be seen and challenge the dominance of our Scandinavian colleagues.”
He professes to be unbelievably happy to be part of spreading Norwegian lamps around in the world.
To learn more about Northern and their products, visit their website at:
This article originally appeared in the May 21, 2021, issue of The Norwegian American.