An interview with Henrik Ørgreen

Written by Michaela Widergren

Copenhagen based eyewear brand Ørgreen optics just launched their collaboration with singer Melody Gardot and therefore we got some Q&A time with the designer and founder Henrik Ørgreen to talk about the new sunglasses and the history of the brand.

MM: Tell us the story of Ørgreen…

: I founded Ørgreen in 1997 with my two friends Tobias (today Head of Design and Partner at Ørgreen Optics) and Gregers (today Head of Sales and Partner at Ørgreen Optics).
I had previously worked as an agent in the sunglass business, but I dreamt of creating my own company. One that could shake up the optical industry, which back then was rather conservative.
All three of us rebellious young hearts with a restless and relentless drive to beat the crowd and be the best, we also shared a passion for extreme sports and lots of fun – from world cup skating to surfing and snowboarding to trade show organization and party production. A common flair for vintage car and aircraft design became the inspirational aesthetic starting point - still today visible in the essence and details of our design.
We started out in a back yard in Copenhagen with only the three of us behind the brand and with no previous experience in the field of designing and producing eyewear.
However right from the beginning we set a very high standard for everything we did. Compromise was – and still is – not an option for us! We have always been very ambitious with our goals, both from a design and a business perspective and equally keen on innovation in terms of developing new techniques and using new materials and combinations.
Today we have grown into an international company represented in more than 50 countries. We’ve become a respected player in our field and we are considered one of the leaders in the optical world because of our creative ideas and unique directions – as well as our ‘no compromises’ policy, determining everything we do.
Though the company has grown and every process has been professionalized, we still share the dream and listen to the rebel inside. And we hand pick our team members, partners and collaborators, so that they match our vision, personality and energy. As we see it, we have a big family now!

MM: How did the collaboration with Melody Gardot happen?

: Melody has been wearing Ørgreen sunglasses for several years – she is very fond of our brand and a true ambassador. Due to a car accident years ago, which damaged her nervous system, she is hypersensitive to light and obliged to wear sunglasses both outdoor and indoor, even while performing. When singing it’s essential that the frames don’t pinch her nose and risk altering her voice, and therefor she has always loved the perfect fit and lightness of our glasses. In addition to being a big fan of our design and aesthetic, of course. Likewise we’re all in for Melody’s music, passion, power and daring creativity.
Melody’s favourite style is Capote and thus we decided to work together on doing something special with this style to make it represent her unique artistic universe and personal style through three limited edition colourways.

MM: Has she been involved with the design?

: Yes, Melody and our color designer, Sahra Lysell, have been in close dialogue. It was essential for us to create a trinity of extraordinary colourways reflecting Melody’s unique persona and talent. Colours that individually and together would sum up the jazzy, sophisticated and feminine aura as well as the adventurous spirit and ambience of Melody’s personality and music. So Melody’s input

MM: Is there any other artist you’d like to work with in the future?

: At Ørgreen we’re great admirers of artists – like Melody Gardot – being truly dedicated to their craft and at the top of their game. With our co-labs we want to celebrate that passion and talent. Whether it’s in music, art, design or fashion. I can’t give you any names, as we don’t want to ruin future surprises, but I promise that we have cool stuff cooking!

MM: How do you keep evolving in terms of design and quality? 

: Even though we’re at a high level today we’re never satisfied with where we are. We want to keep developing and pushing the limits for ourselves and the business. We gather inspiration on our many travels around the world and through the creative people we’re surrounded with, in Copenhagen and abroad. We have the privilege of being in a position where we hiring new people in several departments and that’s always a good way to be inspired and challenged to do new things and reflect on different directions. In general we believe in taking epic chances. We’re very particular with our demands and wishes in terms of our standards for quality and design – only the very best is good enough.

MM: Which sunglass style is your own personal favorite?

: I really love our Kjeld T sunglasses - a tribute to one of the greatest Danish DJs ever!