Anders Buchtrup Jensen and Peter Hensberg are cabinet makers with their workshops in Braband near Aarhus and are the_oak_men.

Their pieces are strong and robust and they themselves point out that their target market is men buying for themselves or women buying for men.

You can see they have a real love and a real respect for oak and I can appreciate that. 

If you have not worked with oak it might be difficult to understand why oak inspires these feelings but when you are working with the wood it seems soft and compliant … some woods are really hard work and almost seem to fight back against the saw or chisel but not oak. And the smell is fantastic … the smell of wood sawdust or shavings and the different smell of burning wood when using a fast drill or electric saw. Oak is also amazing with the various ways to finish the surface and it takes on different qualities with wax or oil or stain and very different effects can be achieved with liming or smoking the timber. The other thing that maybe people generally don’t know is that oak lasts … as oxygen in the air gets to it then it seasons and gets harder and harder and tougher and tougher … try drilling a piece of old oak or banging a nail in. Oak doesn’t make thin elegant furniture because of the broad sweep of the grain (unless it grows very slowly for reasons of the climate of the location of the tree) but it does make fantastic bold strong carved sculptures.

The_oak_men have a real sense of humour … just read their publicity material … or for that matter look at their work.

Their toys (for boys of all ages) are fantastic and exploit the smooth, round sculptural shapes that are best for oak and there is a strong sense of fun … as in the figures of the ghosts with slots across the tops of their heads so they can stand on a desk or shelf holding important notes or postcards. There is a strong tradition in Denmark for producing wooden toys, particularly animals with a simple, cartoon-like reduction of details so again they become sculptures rather than models. The most famous designer of course being Kaj Bojesen but the tradition is alive and strong with Architectmade, pieces from Normann and others and of course the_oak_men.

The advantage of seeing the work of the_oak_men at northmodern is that you can appreciate the huge range of items they make. Many stores unfortunately seem to stock too small a selection.

Their boxes may appear to be almost starkly simple but they are very elegant sophisticated pieces ... the lids have a bevelled edge and drop down into a matching bevel on the sides of the box itself so at the edges you see no flat end grain. There are no knobs or handels but simple smooth holes where you use a finger to hook off the lid. Boxes lids and trays use strong simple colours to compliment the oak.

There are kitchen pieces in the range including a pestle and mortar and there are now several lights with an oak base. Several pieces combine oak with cord or leather and new pieces on show at northmodern included the pendant lights shown above. There was also a new wall shelf with hanging rail. Its called The Shelfie. See what I mean about a sense of humour.