Milieu is a series that explores the unique ways in which we breathe life into our homes. From coastal towns to city living, our homes are a celebration of small, simple moments. They’re a reflection of our lives. Our stories. Our milieu.
Our fifth instalment in this series brings us to Brooklyn, New York to visit Camilla Vest in her family home and Skagerak showroom space.
Having been described by visitors as ‘a little slice of Copenhagen’, Camilla’s home looks and feels like exactly that. We were thrilled to have the chance to step inside and chat with Camilla about her everyday inspirations, love of New York, and the ethos behind Scandinavian design.
Please, introduce yourself 🙂
My name is Camilla Vest and I live in Brooklyn, New York with my husband and 2 children. On a daily basis I lead the Skagerak team in North America, where we are responsible for growing the presence of the brand in the US and Canada.
Where are you from originally? What brought you to New York?
I am originally from Denmark, and moved to New York in 1995 to start an international modelling career and have been here pretty much ever since.
What inspired you to cultivate a career in design and interiors?
On my many modelling trips I always enjoyed collecting beautiful objects and furniture pieces, and this combined with my Danish heritage and my passion for design, my love for storytelling and collaboration, along with my growing network in North America all led me to starting my own agency 4 years ago – Objects NYC who represented Danish furniture brands in the US and Canada. Skagerak was one of our most prominent brands who have really taken off in the last couple of years as the brand’s focus on minimal, sustainable and timeless designs really resonates with the needs of the modern consumer.
When the opportunity to work with Skagerak exclusively was presented to us earlier this year, it was an offer we couldn’t resist as we have always felt very aligned with both the Skagerak aesthetics and values and we feel the brand has so much potential – we are beyond excited to be part of the journey.
What is one of your favourite parts about living in New York?
The energy. Everything moves faster here – this is something that inspires me and keeps me motivated every single day. I also love the pace of the city and the diversity within it which means no day is ever the same – things never get boring as I’m constantly met by surprises which has made me good at adapting – a skill that I use everyday in both my professional and private life.
What does a typical day look like for you these days?
I usually start my day with an early morning run in the lovely Fort Greene park in Brooklyn to clear my head, then I have a quick breakfast followed by checking through emails before the day begins with various meetings – mainly over zoom for the last year due to Covid, but luckily we have started having more in-person meetings again which is wonderful after so many months without. Working in the design industry it’s also great to be able to visit showrooms, exhibitions and go to events again – aspects of my job that I love and which keep me inspired and energized.
You bring a beautifully distinct Scandinavian lifestyle into your life and work in Brooklyn. On the other hand, how has living in New York influenced that lifestyle and aesthetic?
I feel like I have always stayed very true to my aesthetic and the Scandinavian influence is definitely very distinct throughout our home – we actually often hear visitors to the Skagerak showroom call the space “a little slice of Copenhagen”. The Scandinavian aesthetic is both reflected in the actual furniture and design pieces we have, but also small things like how we emphasize the high ceilings and large windows to maximize the light.
What is an element or ethos within Scandinavian design that you hope to see catch on in North America?
That less is more. In my opinion everything looks better with space around it – it’s about staying away from cluttered setups and having open rooms where you can interact. I find that when there is too much furniture in a room you can’t appreciate the individual pieces and the atmosphere is more noisy. Some of my favorite furniture pieces are small side tables and stools (like the Georg Jubilee stool in our showroom) and I feel like these have to stand alone to really shine.
Patina is another thing that we embrace in Scandinavia. In Denmark, people view wood as a living material, one that will change and patinate over time, and one you can maintain yourself if you need to. It’s therefore common to purchase untreated wood products and if you feel over time that they need to be refreshed due to wear and tear, stains etc. all you do is sand down the wood and potentially add an oil treatment for extra protection – then the product is not just as good as new, it’s also long lasting. This is something our customers have had to get used to as the majority of our customers want their products to continue looking like they did from day one. However, In both the US and Canada we do see more and more of our customers adapting to this process, as they start appreciating the process and the fact that it also makes them feel more connected to their product.
Do you consider yourself a minimalist? What does minimalism mean to you?
Oh for sure. For me minimalism isn’t the lack of something but instead it’s the perfect amount of something.
Does art play a big role in your household?
Yes – I do love abstract art and I’m a big fan of ceramic sculptures. Currently I’m really loving the work of Danish sculptor Josefine Winding.
Do you have a favourite room, corner or viewpoint in your home?
I think I would choose our backyard in our Brooklyn townhouse – it’s a relaxing oasis full of trees, bird song and sunlight. I love the way our outdoor lounge set from Skagerak fits in perfectly here. Modern, yet classic.
We love that you’ve collected precious furnishings and wares from your travels over the years. Which interior piece in your home has the most unique story?
It’s difficult to pick one piece but I might have to choose my Poul Kjærholm PK 22 wicker chairs which were my first design purchase when I was 18 and which I bought directly from Kjærholm’s son. I love the design itself and its mix of materials – steel, Kjærholm’s primary material in combination with softer materials like wood, leather, cane, marble or in this case, wicker. These chairs mean a lot to me as I feel like they have followed us all over the world and with their clean, modern lines they look so beautiful in our classic Brooklyn townhouse.
Who or what are your biggest design inspirations?
My surroundings inspire me a lot – it can be anything from the architecture around me, the fabrics and materials of design objects or the light and styling in photography. I also love visiting art galleries and museums – one of my favorite museums in New York is the Noguchi Museum in Long Island City. It’s a small museum that always inspires me as I’m very drawn to both Noguchi’s sculptures and lamps – there’s something about the minimal lines, organic shapes and earthy palette that really appeal to my personal aesthetic. I have purchased several of his Akari lamps over the years – an example of a long lasting design that has only gotten more relevant over the years. Everything from the design itself to the craftsmanship and packaging is just such a treat.
I also love visiting the Storm King Art Center in upstate New York. A wonderful open air museum filled with contemporary sculptures in the most beautiful setting. It’s the perfect place to recharge and take in new impressions, and when you and your family need a break from the city it’s an ideal weekend getaway to clear your head and just enjoy what’s around you.
Photography of Camilla’s home and Skagerak showroom space was taken by Kate Sears.
Browse a few of Camilla’s favourite Skagerak pieces from our collection: