Images: Tanja Gotthardsen & Mads Bo Jensen //
Where: Aarhus, Denmark.
Residence: Tanja and her spouse, Mads.
In a small city in Denmark, we found a very colorful gal who lives in a very colorful apartment, which is decorated with second-hand items only.
Decorating with this limitation at hand can really narrow design choices, making the decorating process more challenging. However, for Tanja, this is not just a gimmick, but a real ecological statement, and therefore a design technique that must endure.
But let’s go back a little bit and start from the beginning. Everyone, please meet Tanja!
Tell us a little bit about yourself
“I live in Aarhus, Denmark, with my boyfriend, Mads. Aarhus is commonly referred to as the world’s smallest metropolis, having both the cultural and commercial denominators of a large city, and a rather small population and acreage in international terms. Demographically, it is a “young” city. Many youths move to Aarhus to study following high school – I did so too”.
“However, it has been a couple of years since I finished my studies, and I have since worked as both a research consultant and a political consultant for NGOs. I recently gave up the latter to pursue my own little business, in which I work as a content creator / freelance writer on the issues of recycling and sustainability. “
“Part of this is to display my own secondhand décor and wardrobe through Instagram and my blog, Secondhand First. My aim and purpose is to challenge fast and trend-based understandings of aesthetics (which I find dominates social media) by proposing more sustainable and personal options. I also assist in creating and optimizing platforms for others, through visuals and communications”.
My aim and purpose is to challenge fast and trend-based understandings of aesthetics by proposing more sustainable and personal options.
“The combination of aesthetics, recycling and sustainability is quite central to my identity. I used to work as a freelance illustrator, and I have always been extremely fond of art. In addition to this, I have purchased the majority of my clothes secondhand since my early teens. Soon after came furniture and décor. In the beginning, my concerns were financial (having moved out on my own quite early in life), while later, it became a matter of sustainability as well. I live by the belief that you have to turn down and reject the bad to make way for all things good.”
The combination of aesthetics, recycling and sustainability are quite central to my identity.
What else do you love about sustainable home decorations and wardrobe?
“I think I will have to differentiate this question a bit by dividing “sustainable” into two categories – secondhand and new, sustainably made. With regard to secondhand (which is what I primarily opt for), my second most favorite thing is the way in which it can add a ton of personality to any room or outfit. It allows you to look past trends and to combine previous seasons in any way you like. And as for both ‘old’ and ‘new’ sustainable options, I adore their durability. They are made to last.”
Where do you get your design inspiration from?
“I decorate in the same way as I paint – with no limit to colors, what so ever. I do not have a particular source of inspiration – I simply adore trying out colors and compositions. Of course, working so much through Instagram as I do, I do come across a lot of lovely homes that may inspire me to some extent. But it is not something that I actively seek out, when decorating our home.
Mads is also a key player in planning our home and selecting our décor. He comes up with such great ideas for optimizing our rooms. So where I do the majority of scouting and curating, he has a great eye for pragmatics.”
I decorate in the same way as I paint – with no limit to colors, what so ever.
So how do you scout for new things for your home? Where do you find them?
“I use a number of Danish secondhand apps, and as a result of having been a secondhand-shopper for so long, I have quite extensive knowledge of stores across Denmark. I visit local stores quite frequently, as we some really great ones in Aarhus. Some specialize in retro, others in more industrial or romantic décor. I also have a few go-to-places for vintage art prints. There’s a bit of everything, really. Also, flea markets are essential to my way of decorating and my lifestyle. That’s where the real treasure hunt takes place – you never know what you’ll find.”
In your opinion- What is the “secret ingredient” for every well-designed space?
I believe that a ‘secret ingredient’ is highly personal, and thus, difficult to predetermine. As is a “well-designed space”. At least, if the ingredient is meant as something more concrete than ambience and individual perception. Spaces serve different purposes, and the means by which we design or decorate may encourage different reactions from each of us.
“For some, colors may upset the sense of calm they seek, while, for me, it boosts my contentment and, hence, my sense of calmness. So, rather than specifying any such ingredient, I propose that you decide what a space is meant to do for you (no matter what magazines and other media dictate), and then seek out the components that will help you obtain that effect.” //