Recently launched furniture brand NINE has unveiled its inaugural collection, which shines a light on emerging talents but is mostly made up of male designers.
The debut collection, unveiled at 3 Days of Design in Copenhagen, centres around products by nine designers and studios including Julien Renault, Daniel Schofield and Matteo Fogale. Swiss-French designer Alexandra Gerber is the only woman.
Katherine Hoeger, CEO at Nine United Europe, told Dezeen that the current gender balance is not representative of the pool of designers that the company is working with.
"We have work by some super talented female designers in the pipeline, but we had a limitation about what we could show in terms of what was ready," she said.
Sam Stotesworthy, head of design and development for NINE, described it as "an unhappy accident".
He said the gender split will quickly improve as the brand rolls out more products. "By next year, we will be very close to a 50/50 split," he said.
NINE revealed one of these upcoming projects within the Copenhagen exhibition.
In a side room next to the main show, the brand showcased Sine, an outdoor furniture collection designed by Malin Engvall of Note Design Studio, which will launch in 2024.
"It was initially intended to be behind closed doors, just to show to customers looking ahead to next year, but we love it so much that we couldn't help ourselves," said Stotesworthy.
NINE's aesthetic centres around strong geometries, elemental forms and bold colours. Designs are developed with ease of assembly and transportation in mind, using recycled and recyclable materials where possible.
Stotesworthy describes the style as "simple, clean, unpretentious and perfect for urban living".
Gerber's contribution to the collection is Hook, a family of pendant lamps formed of two key elements.
A wide semi-cone forms the shade, while a slender cylinder houses the fitting. The two are connected by a single concealed hook, creating the impression that the shade is floating.
The range also includes 19 Outdoors, a range of outdoor furniture that developed from a charity project.
Tom and Will Butterfield, also known as the Butterfield Brothers, organised the 19 Chairs project to raise money for Age UK during the first Covid-19 lockdown. Stotesworthy approached the duo after seeing the project on Instagram.
"It's every young designer's dream to do a project, then have someone say they would like to produce it," said Stotesworthy. "It's great that we have this platform that can do that."
Other key pieces include Bolt, a steel and oak shelving system by emerging German designer Lennart Ebert, and Skinny, a versatile wooden chair by British designer John Tree.
"The Skinny chair from John is one of the most practical, functional products we have," said Stotesworthy.
"It just ticks all the boxes in terms of good design and good quality; I think it really summarises what we're trying to do."
Nine United was founded by Danish entrepreneur Troels Holch Povlsen, who is also one of the co-founders of Danish furniture brand Hay.
Hay previously sat within Nine United, but this changed after US furniture giant Herman Miller – now renamed MillerKnoll – acquired a third of the business in 2018.
While both NINE and Hay share a contemporary aesthetic, Hoeger says that is where the similarities end.
"Hay is a brand that we hugely admire, but it covers such a broad spectrum," she said. "NINE is too small to draw any comparison whatsoever."
The next steps for NINE, according to Hoeger, are to build the team out beyond product development. Up until now, the brand has relied on Nine United's business infrastructure to get off the ground.
Stotesworthy revealed that workplace design will play an important role in the brand's upcoming collections.
"We have some new products coming next year expanding into offices and home offices, which I think will show a little bit more about our direction for the future," he added.
NINE was on show as part of 3 Days of Design 2023, from 7 June to 9 June 2023. See Dezeen Events Guide for information about the event, plus a list of other architecture and design events taking place around the world.
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