WØRKS Founders Suze Raymond and Christoffer Kjærgård sat down with leading Australian design publication Habitus to discuss sustainable formulation, Danish design and bathroom renovations.
Danish and Australian design sensibilities align by way of this creative couple and their brainchild, WØRKS.
Suze Raymond and Christoffer Kjærgård are the founders behind WØRKS, bridging the gap between design-led bathroom products and discernible eco ethics. The Danish/Australian couple and business partners has brought sustainability to the fore of their company, spanning product formulations, vessels to house the products, and packaging and distribution. It’s challenging, admits Christoffer Kjærgård, but they wouldn’t do it any other way.
In amidst of running a business just a couple of years old, they’ve also embarked on a bathroom renovation to their top floor apartment in a building dating back to 1854. For two people who work endlessly in the bathroom sphere, find out how they’ve designed their own.
Tell us about WØRKS and its recent evolution as a company?
Suze Raymond: We founded WØRKS in 2018 with a mission to bridge the gap between sustainable living and considered design. We saw personal care products existing at opposing ends of a spectrum: eco-friendly formulations that are let down by unappealing branding, or aesthetically pleasing products that miss the mark on integrous formulation and environmental responsibility.
As a Danish/Australian couple, we set out to curate a collection of personal care products that celebrates the best of both cultures without compromising on efficacy, aesthetics or integrity. With that in mind, we source locally grown certified organic raw materials and manufacture our formulations ethically in Melbourne. When it comes to design and branding, we collaborate with a Copenhagen-based designer to create minimalistic packaging with a focus on clean lines, classic silhouettes and neutral palettes.
Most recently we’ve been working on expanding our collections of hand and body care as well as crafting beautiful objects for the home. We’ve been working closely with a master perfumer to create proprietary scents that evoke mindfulness, calm and balance, and utilising organic materials like iris root extract and carrot oil to develop natural formulations that deliver luxurious sensory experiences.
Our collections–ÅRHUS, ØDENSE and KØBEN–are named for Danish cities.
Your clean formulations are vegan, biodegradable and housed in reusable glass vessels, how do you manage to tick all these boxes? Is it difficult?
Christoffer Kjærgård: It was challenging, and it continues to be challenging as we expand. We spent two years in research and development before launching WØRKS with a capsule collection, and our most recent formulations have been in development for a further 12 months.
Suze and I are both vegan and we live as sustainably as practicable, so it’s natural for us to bring our personal values into the business. Our formulating chemist specialises in balancing plant-based raw materials with efficacy and sensory experience. Together, we’ve created a synergistic collection of pH balanced vegan and biodegradable formulations that contain certified organics and are free from parabens, sulphates, synthetics, phthalates, silicones, PEGS, mineral oils and palm oil.
Our commitment to natural materials extends past the formulations to the vessels themselves. We house our formulations in glass because, unlike plastic, glass can be easily sterilised for safe reuse; it doesn’t rely on petroleum or synthetics for manufacture; and it is recyclable in perpetuity. Further, our glass vessels are tinted to protect the natural formulations inside from UV light.
We operate a single-use plastic free business model, offer refills at a reduced price point to encourage sustainable choices, and have designed our shipping boxes to protect the products in transit while negating the need for plastic bubble wrap or packing beads.
You’re currently in the midst of renovation to your own bathroom, what changes are you making and why did they feel important?
SR: Our apartment spans the top floor of the former Star and Garter Hotel in St Kilda. The building dates back to 1854, which affords us plenty of charm and original features but presents some unique quirks and challenges.
The existing bathroom was quite small, so this renovation is all about creating a sense of space and light. We’ve achieved this by removing several walls to gain floorspace, opting for slimline cabinetry and discrete fixtures, installing new north-facing windows, and keeping the lines clean throughout. To create harmony between the history of the building and the modern finishes of the renovation, we sourced an original 1920s full leadlight bathroom door that allows light to pass through while being opaque enough to provide privacy.
It was important to me that the bathroom offers a beautiful space to conduct the daily rituals of personal care. Our recent self-isolation has highlighted the significance of the bathroom as a sanctuary. I think we all need a calm space to retreat from the home office or daily stressors and practice wholistic self-care.
How have previous bathrooms you’ve lived with in the past informed your tastes now?
CK: For me, the two standouts are functionality and palette. Apartment living demands clever use of space and functional design, which have been absent in previous bathrooms I’ve lived with. Incorporating adequate storage while maintaining a feeling a space is really important to me.
In terms of palette, I like to keep things neutral. In our recent renovation we’ve worked with classic grey and white tones balanced by black accents to bring a feeling of clean minimalism and simplicity. When you have a foundation of neutral tones and timeless materials like stone, glass and porcelain it’s easy to use accessories to personalise the space.
What are your bathroom essentials and why?
SR: I’m currently obsessed with our ØDENSE Balancing Body Care Duo. The organic liquid body soap is formulated with skin synergistic oils and extracts, while the medium-weight body balm restores moisture and calms the skin. The signature scent offers top notes of aromatic earth and red fruit, heart notes of lavandin and cedar, and base notes amber and spice.
CR: I enjoy bringing Danish classics into our home. When I moved to Melbourne from Denmark in 2015 I brought a collection of soft furnishings and accessories. Some of those – a Vipp 13 pedal bin, several sets of Georg Jensen bath towels, and a pair of Lyngby vases – have found a place in our bathroom. These small accessories never go out of style.