About Per Ploug

Pemara Design is an Irish furniture and design company with roots deep in the Danish furniture traditions, focusing on developing their own unique designs. The company was founded by Danish designer Per Ploug, who has worked in the furniture industry for more than 20 years as a kitchen designer. Combining his many years of experience, his engineering skills and his knowledge of good interior design, made him form and create a unique dining table, which soon after was put into production. Other products, such as a complimentary bench and chairs, coffee table, bar stool and more have since followed. The products are available through selected furniture retailers in Ireland, UK, Denmark and UAE. Pemara Design is always looking for new retailers who would take on the products.

Interview with Per Ploug

Per Ploug ("PP") interviewed on Tuesday, 20 March.

Could you please tell us about your experience as a designer, artist, architect or creator?

PP : I have been a kitchen designer for the past 25 years and have therefore been exposed to all kinds of interior design and architecture. I was brought up to be practical and good with my hands so I then decided to become a house building engineer, although in hindsight I should have gone into architecture and design because that is where my heart lies. It was in 2012 that I sat down to design a table to be an integral part of what I do as a kitchen designer. I wanted to have a go at it and design a table that would be the perfect compliment to my kitchens, especially in the open plan scenario. The table was so well received that I decided to enter it into the A'Design Awards and it was awarded a Bronze. This gave me the encouragement to keep going and create my own style range of furniture.

How did you become a designer?

PP : My interest in design has been there as long as I remember. My parents, although not designers themselves, were very creative and visitors always complimented us for our interior style. Being Danish you are extremely house proud. That and a constant exposure to the beautiful Danish contemporary classic style of furniture has given me a certain foundation. I became a designer more out of necessity than by choice. I studied engineering and when I graduated I moved to Ireland to be with the girl I love, the only problem was... back in 1993 there where no engineering jobs in Ireland to be got, so I had to think differently. If there is one thing engineering has taught me, it is that there is always a solution to a problem, and that I think is also apparent in my furniture designs.

What are your priorities, technique and style when designing?

PP : I am hands on, have always been. Even today I draw my designs by hand, I feel much more creative when I can doodle and sketch. My engineering background taught me to do technical drawings, and I graduated a couple of years before CAD became an integral part of the course. Sometimes I make up scaled models, especially if I feel the design needs to be scrutinized and possible altered for maximum effect. I prefer to work to a theme and create a certain style that does not follow norms. My designs must have function and ergonomics as well as personality.

Which emotions do you feel when designing?

PP : Initially I will feel curious, wondering if I can design a given object that will fulfill a certain criteria. As I get into the design and my ideas, things take on a momentum and curiosity becomes excitement. Once the excitement sets in, it means to me that I am on a good course, that I am heading in the right direction for what I want to create. This excitement carries right through the process of making it and seeing the final product. All in all, designing is an exciting journey.

What particular aspects of your background shaped you as a designer?

PP : I grew up in an environment of practicality and innovation. My father being very innovative and always built and made things and was always able to fix and come up with the right solutions. He died at a young age, and my older brother, whom I looked up to the most, and I inherited these traits. No tool was ever foreign to us, whether it was woodwork, steelwork or any kind of trade. The ability to put your hands to any task gives you a solid sense of what is good, achievable and what is practical. With that background, it is I believe easier to start shape and design an object. You have have a very realistic approach to dimensions etc.

What is your growth path? What are your future plans? What is your dream design project?

PP : I am right now at a crossroads, where I want to create a new line. I have a few other items I would like to complement what I have created this far, but it is also time to evaluate and find a different path in design. I would also like to design other items than furniture - but the day job doesn't always give me the time needed to be super creative. My dream project is without doubt to create a product that will go into large scale production, and which will give me a certain status. My dream legacy would be to be remembered the way Arne Jacobsen and Hans J Wegner are remembered today.

What are your advices to designers who are at the beginning of their career?

PP : My advice to budding designers... Learn and learn early. If design is your passion, go to design college. That is one thing I would have done in hindsight. Mind you, my engineering degree has given me a foundation to do certain things with design - but as a full-time designer you will have engineers working with you or for you in bigger companies to help realise your designs.

You are truly successful as a designer, what do you suggest to fellow designers, artists and architects?

PP : If you feel you are good at design, explore it. Get your hands dirty. Make those prototypes, or find people who can help making them for you or with you. Just do it, and you will eventually stumble upon a product you have created that has appeal to people, either because of aesthetics or functionality. The more you practice the better you become. Oh and once you do find that product, enter competitions! They will help elevate you to another level.

How do you keep up with latest design trends? To what extent do design trends matter?

PP : To create one has to find inspiration... It is important to continuously submerge yourself in design and what happens within the industry. This I think is best done by magazines, online content and by visiting shops and design museums. It is important to know what is presently happening in your field, and also to ensure that your own designs don't resemble in detail something already on the market. Personally I like designing product families that don't conform to a certain trend, because I feel that you are limiting your own abilities of creating something timeless. In furniture the best designs are still the ones created during the golden period of 1950's and 60's, as relevant today as they were then. Those designers found inspiration but created their own design language.

How do you know if a product or project is well designed? How do you define good design?

PP : To me good design must be about function, comfort and ambiance. A design can be stunning to look at and have the right function, but if it isn't comfortable in use it will eventually loose appeal. Missing either of those three and you will miss out on appeal.

How do you decide if your design is ready?

PP : I have a certain group of people I trust will give me proper criticism. Many people don't want to hurt your feelings, so find the right ones. Even with that, learn to analyse their responses, read their body language and any slight hesitation should make you alert. Even better, show it and study people's reaction to your product. This can be done at exhibitions.

What is your biggest design work?

PP : I am proud of all my designs, but if I was to single one out it would be the Veizla table, because it was what set me on the path of furniture design. It was the springboard to creating the chairs and benches, and all the other pieces that have followed since.

Who is your favourite designer?

PP : I admit that I am slightly conservative in my taste, and it takes me a while to warm up to the more trendy designers and artists, some I feel are more about shocking reaction than about inspiring people. I also tend to look to Denmark, it being where I am from. I admire the world renowned Danish furniture designers of the 1950' and 60's, but I do also admire contemporaries like Cecilie Mantz and Tom Stepp. The one furniture designer I would have loved to meet and talk to would be Hans J Wegner, and if I could have followed Frank Lloyd Wright around for a month..? Wow.

Would you tell us more about your work culture and business philosophy?

PP : I am currently a one man design company, although I do bounce ideas off a certain group of people. I admit that my main source of income is still my kitchen design business, although I dream of the day my furniture design business will become bigger. I'd say my biggest challenge here is to grow and become more recognised, and/or to create products for large scale production, to become internationally known for what I create. A good designer should have drive, a keen eye, be critical without being over-critical, have humor, passion and be brave.

What positive experiences you had when you attend the A’ Design Award?

PP : I have had great experiences attending the A'Design Award. It has given me courage and belief in my abilities to shape and design. It has given me a name within the design world, although it is still only a small name it will continuously grow as I enter more products under my name. Competitions are life giving, especially ones that are as encouraging as A'Design Award. I am honoured (and a little surprised) to be named Designer of the Day. Thank you so much for the recognition. I am looking forward to entering more products and ideas in this great competition.

Per Ploug Profile

Veizla Dining Table

Veizla Dining Table design by Per Ploug

Graphium Chair

Graphium Chair design by Per Ploug

Veizla Side Table

Veizla Side Table design by Per Ploug


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