A short interview with Jonas Wagell about the Happy Whale project.

By Cornelia Brinkmann, Normann Copenhagen,
November 17, 2016 Copenhagen, Denmark.

What would you like people to experience with the figurine?

I always try to reduce details to bring out one aesthetical detail or character when I give form to products. This is the first object I have designed that doesn’t have an obvious practical function and therefore is purely decorative. Its purpose is to evoke feelings and emotions – to make people happy!

What was your personal inspiration for the design?

I had been thinking about designing a little sculpture or figure for some time. Lately, an abundance of bird figures have turned up on the market so I wanted to do something different to avoid contributing to an unsustainable trend. One night I watched a documentary about the founding of Greenpeace and their important work with protection of whales. The whale has become a symbol for the environment and this inspired me to create this specific figurine.

If applicable, how do you use the wooden figure in your home?

I have a long shelf in my kitchen where I keep decorative finds, vintage glassware together with my favourite cups and glasses. This spot is great for a happy little whale!

What is the story behind the wooden figures? Is it a new trend that has come up? Or is there a long tradition around it?

I believe wood figurines are part of our heritage here in the north. I don’t want to call it a trend, but rather a long-lasting tradition. Design is much more accessible today and we are exposed to both good products and cheap stuff. It’s our responsibility as designers to try to create long-lasting products with high quality and avoid the temptation of “quick and cheap”.

How do you see it in relation to other ‘famous’ wooden animal figures?

The Scandinavian classics from the 1950’s were manufactured as toys, but even earlier wooden figures were made for educational purposes. The high quality and great craftsmanship behind these objects have made them classics today. Good design has the quality to interpret and depict the current time and therefore the highest ambition as a designer is to contribute with future classics.