Studio Tour at Nicholas Shurey & Benjamin Ahearn’s Studio in Copenhagen
We are excited to finally share a new studio tour with you guys today! The stunning space of Nicholas Shurey and Benjamin Ahearn in Copenhagen. We absolutely love the work of both of them and are lucky enough to have a sculpture of Nicholas and a cupboard of Ben at home. Enjoy the tour!
Hi, please introduce yourself:
Hi, I’m Benjamin Ahearn, the founder of BACD Studio. I live and work in Copenhagen with my Danish wife Camilla Dahl and our two children. I am educated as an architect, at the University of Washington Seattle, but I have floated between working in architecture offices and furniture workshops for the past 15 years. Through the years I continue to find my way back to the scale and craft of furniture and eventually my passion has resulted in the creation of my own bespoke furniture company – BACD Studio.
And I’m Nicholas Shurey, a British sculptor based in Copenhagen. I’m also educated as an architect but defected. I have always loved working with wood, so it was a logical transition. Traditional woodworking offers a deep haptic satisfaction in a way that I missed when I worked as an architect.
2.How did you two meet and how did both of your businesses start?
We originally met while working as architect/interior designers at Space Copenhagen. While it was a rewarding experience to design and manage high end hospitality projects around the world, we both felt the stress and monotony of the job wearing on us. Nicholas jumped first, traveling to Switzerland to spend a month working with a farmer-cum-sculptor. I, Benjamin, have long dreamt of having my own furniture company and after years of collecting tools and knowledge I have slowly built up my studio practice.
3.Since when have you had the studio and how did you find it?
We moved into our current space in 2019 – we found the space through an online classified ad, which included 2 poor images, which didn’t show much because it was completely full of junk. After visiting the space in person we could immediately see the potential in it and signed the lease.
4.How is it to share a space with two different projects?
Although our work is quite different, and the workshop isn’t terribly huge, we seem to manage our projects so they don’t overlap and interfere with each other. Most days, it is very inspiring to look over at each other’s bench and see how differently we each work with the same material – wood. It’s also helpful to get each other’s input when we’re stuck with a construction problem because we often approach things from different directions.
5.Do you like to have your studio more functional or do you like to add decorative elements?
It’s definitely a blend – but first and foremost it needs to function. Our goal with this space has always been to think about our workflow and the tools necessary to complete the task, and then give each tool a designated space so we can keep it organized. This organizational OCD also plays well to our architect’s need to have the space aesthetically pleasing, with a minimal material pallet. Most decorative elements stem from our work itself with plenty of prototypes/maquettes, finish samples and weird bits of wood to fill the shelves.
6.Do you have a favorite spot in your studio – where do you spend most of the time?
The office space is certainly a favorite spot, to sit with a cup of coffee and enjoy the view out the upper windows, or down into the workshop. That said, we try not to spend too much time up there as it always feels that there is some ‘real’ work to be done down on the shop floor.
We also remodeled the facade this year, adding a big reclaimed double door from Carlsberg’s old factory. During the summer it was fantastic having the doors open, and sitting on the terrace.
7.How did the studio look when you moved in and what did you change? Has there been pieces/furniture/elements in the space, which you took over?
The studio is located in a former sawmill in Amager, just south of Copenhagen’s city centre. The building is an old timber framed beauty with high ceilings, huge clerestory windows that flood it with natural light, and some beautiful brickwork details. The space was a real mess when we saw it (with 20 years worth of the previous tenant’s belongings) so we stripped absolutely everything out before creating our fitout. We did inherit a lot of material from a couple of workshops that were clearing out – lots of plywood sheets, a huge steel ladder and the iconic semi-circular topped door to our office. With the design of the fitout we wanted to make it as practical and flexible as possible, whilst respecting the architectural integrity of the space and having fun. We often say that the first floor office box was like building a treehouse.
8.How would your dream living situation look like?
This is something that we often talk about. We both love our urban lifestyle, being close to friends and inspiring cultural destinations, yet we dream of getting an old farm in the countryside someday. A place where we can fix up an old house and some barns to have plenty of space to practice our craft, while practicing a slower lifestyle and a closer connection to nature.
9.Would you tell us a few of your favorite design shops?
10.What’s your next travel destination?
Ben – Currently, I am sitting in beautiful Stowe Vermont, as I am on paternity leave and traveling quite a bit to visit my family in America. Next week I will be going to Hawaii with my wife and kids to visit some of our close friends that recently moved there. I hope to help them set up their new workshop – @hanaiworks – while also relaxing on the beach.
Nicholas – It’s actually just the UK for me as I’ll be heading there to spend Christmas in Suffolk with my family.
11. What’s your all time favorite travel destination?
Ben – Hard to say, but I always love to return to Ten Mile Lake in Northern Minnesota. My family has deep connections there and it is a place I traveled to every summer as a child to spend time with my extended family on the lake.
Nicholas – Tricky one. Mexico City blew me away although for somewhere closer to home I love Portugal.
12. If someone visits Copenhagen for the first time, which places would you recommend to go to?
Just outside of Copenhagen is Frilandsmuseet (the open air museum) which has a great collection of historic Danish buildings and crafts. More centrally located is Grundvigskirken, a monumental church, built entirely of yellow brick. And finally, if the weather permits, a swim in the harbor is a must.
It’s a bit of a cliche but Louisiana Art Museum is unmissable. It’s one of my favourite places on earth so I try to make a monthly pilgrimage – yes it really does feel like going to a sacred place.