Margrethe Odgaard — Textile and colour expert

Margrethe Odgaard graduated in 2005 from The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, School of Design in Copenhagen and also studied at The Rhode Island School of Design in the US. In 2016 she won the prestigious Torsten and Wanja Söderberg Prize for her colour and textile work. In the summer of 2019, Montana launched a brand new colour palette developed in collaboration with colour expert Margrethe Odgaard.

Just as the modules offer infinite possibilities for combination, the colours also need to be able to be mixed and matched.

Margrethe Odgaard

Colours are light and light is life

Margrethe Odgaard is an award-winning Danish designer whose work is driven by a constant exploration and development of colours. She is the author of the book ‘Shades of Light – with 276 colours designed especially for the delicate Nordic light.

Margrethe constantly develops her own colour indexes in order to reintroduce a rich and luminous character to communicating colours. Since 2013 she has run her own design studio. Before setting up her own, she worked for several years as a textile designer for the French fashion brand EPICE.

Interview with Margrethe Odgaard

Montana is a brand that is famous for its colourful universe. What was it like to be asked to create a whole new colour palette for them?
It’s been an exciting year and a half since we began our dialogue. In my view, Montana is an inspiring brand because they’re both willing and bold enough to use colour. When it comes to the universe of colour, they go all in.

For me, working with lacquers was a new challenge. I work primarily with textiles and my own colour indexes, but this is the first time I’ve worked with industrial lacquers and a requirement for colours to be stable in all types of light. What’s more, it was exciting to me that Montana's colours are all eco-certified.

What was the process of developing the colours like?
Montana is a mathematical supersystem, and I wanted the colours to be an extension of that. Just as the modules offer infinite possibilities for combination, the colours also need to be able to be mixed and matched so that they’re in line with Montana’s philosophy of ‘Making Room for Personality’. But it was also important to me that the colours reflect the precision and quality that I believe characterise Montana’s furniture. Another point of departure for the process was the human being and how we use our body and our senses to decode colour in a certain space.

Once these ideas had been formulated, I began developing all the different colours with gouache, which is in no way stable in different lighting. In close collaboration with Montana and their lacquer developer, a very talented chemical engineer from Akzo Nobel in Sweden, we translated my colours into stable, ‘no-nonsense’ lacquers. It was a lengthy process because we insisted on maintaining the poetry and sensibility of my colours in the industrials lacquers, and my eyes had veto power when it came to deciding when the lacquer had achieved the right nuance.

I’ve intentionally avoided trends and instead attempted to create colours with eternal relevance.

Margrethe Odgaard

What was it like to collaborate with Montana?
It’s been an amazing collaboration characterised by a deep sense of trust, and I was essentially given free rein to develop the palette. Peter and Joakim Lassen and Montana’s design team were involved in the curation of the colours throughout to ensure that they reflect Montana’s history and identity. For example, the colour ‘Beetroot’ was specifically developed at the request of Peter Lassen. It’s a slightly cooler and darker red than the palette’s ‘Rosehip’ shade, which is a bit more orange and energetic in its expression. He insisted on a darker red, and today I’m really happy about that because it adds a wonderful depth to the palette.

What has been your point of departure for this project?
I hope that when you see a piece of Montana furniture in my colours, you’re able to sense the poetry and sensibility which were the starting point. These colours have to last for many years to come – both in the homes of those who buy Montana furniture, but also in the Montana universe itself. That’s why the task of developing new colours hasn’t been a matter of trend.

To the contrary, I’ve intentionally avoided trends and instead attempted to create colours with eternal relevance. Prior to a trend always comes a sensory perception. And at the same time, you need something that speaks to the current moment, and this you can create by combining colours in a way that captures a certain trend.

Your work is pervaded by a very profound approach to colour. What is it that colours are capable of?
Colour is the result of certain light waves either being absorbed or reflected by a given surface. Colours are light and light is life. Light is the energy that can lift us up and carry us forward.

As humans, we’re nourished by our surroundings, and my choice of colour therefore allows me to stimulate people. Colours constitute energies and moods, and they therefore play an unconscious role in creating a good atmosphere.

The new palette takes root in how we nourish the body and soul with colour. Can you explain that a bit more?
I’ve tried to create a palette of colours that are highly corporeal, and which are vivid and bright but also naturally balanced. This means they have a natural kinship with the natural materials we use in our interiors while at the same time harmonising with other colours.

In addition to the thirty new colours, we’ve also worked with six new lacquer textures, ranging from the very smooth to the more coarse, in order to intensify the experience of the colour and create a more tactile experience. Various sensations are stimulated below one’s fingertips, shaping our experience of the colour and the atmosphere that it creates in the room.

When it comes to interior design, many people tend to stick to a ‘neutral’ and ‘safe’ colour scale. Can you offer a few tips on how to overcome that and integrate colour in our homes?
Start by asking yourself questions like, ‘What kind of atmosphere do I want for this room?’ For example, do I want it to be warm, calming, enticing, nourishing or charming? And sometimes you’ve got to dare to move out of your comfort zone, because as we all know truly great experiences don’t come of playing it safe – just like with so many other things in life.

Eco-friendly colours

Since 2007, we have exclusively used water-based lacquer colours, which neither smell nor contain solvents. In addition, Montana recently achieved the EU Ecolabel, making the company among the first furniture manufacturers in Europe.

The EU Ecolabel includes the entire Montana System, the CO16 and the Montana Free Shelving System. Montana is also awarded the Indoor Climate label by the Danish Technological Institute.

Read about environment and quality