Frost Produkt

I.D. Magazine

Three years ago, when the Oslo design collective Frost Produkt first laid eyes on their future studio—a two-story, late 19th-century building that once served as a stable for the city’s brewery—it wasn’t promising. “It looked like hell,” says Sondre Frost, 28, who together with his brother, Jann, and partners Sindre Widerberg and Thomas Jenkins, have created everything from Norway’s official mailbox to 2004’s Alta Bike, a lightweight, single-speed bicycle that in 2006 became the bike of choice for Smart Bike, an urban rental system similar to Zipcar. (Already implemented in four Scandinavian cities, the system will debut in Barcelona this spring.) “It was raw and dilapidated, with no bathroom or water.” Undeterred, the group rebuilt the interiors, filling the building with friends, food, and music and creating a work environment that borders on domestic bliss.

Frost Produkt’s aesthetic credo is “warm minimalism” and they decorated accordingly, with bright, clean, functional rooms broken up by craggy walls and personal accents like the designers’ own Alta Bikes and a collection of kitschy religious objects that includes a ceramic golden Ganesh, a waving Japanese cat, and a picture of the Pope. In the renovation, they added a workshop for building prototypes next door; shaped like a black cube, it’s a sharp contrast to the original all-white structure. (Currently, the group is cranking out models on their beloved Colchester lathe for an upcoming collection of ski gear. The ground floor is rented to designer friends and colleagues, and Frost Produkt’s members work at a communal desk on the second floor to the sounds of German techno or Norwegian folk music blasting from a restored Bang & Olufsen stereo. “Music is very important to us,” says Frost.

So is food. The designers cook and eat lunch together every day in their big kitchen. (They even have a little bell that calls everyone to the table.) “Since we often work late, it’s important to have a good lunch,” says Frost, sounding very much like a sensible Scandinavian. The home cooking also attracts visits from neighboring design groups like Norway Says, with whom the group collaborated on the Alta Bike. “We have a small, close-knit network of young designers in Oslo,” says Sondre, “Together, we’re changing the face of Norwegian design.”

Square footage: 1,600

Number of workers:

Décor element that says it all: “The warm minimalism of the whole building, especially the new extension, which combines the new with the old, clean, functional, and charming.

First thing to rescue in a fire: “The old Colchester lathe would probably take us 20 men and a whole day to get out, but we bought it at a foreclosure sale six years ago and the previous owner told us it was used for the construction of the bobsled track at the 1994 Lillehammer Olympics.”