visiting Iben Frederiksen
FOUNDER OF A SEAT IN SIENA AND CMO IN GREEN COLLECTIVE
Trine: IBEN, YOU MAKE SUCH BEAUTIFUL STOOLS, AND I AM SUCH A FAN… BUT IT IS RELATIVELY NEW FOR YOU TO PURSUE THIS PROJECT AS SELF-EMPLOYED AFTER MANY YEARS AS AN EMPLOYE… WHY WAS THAT?
Iben: I am probably of the entrepreneurial-type, who always is full of new ideas and this has, amongst other things, resulted in me trying to convince all my girlfriends to join all kinds of possible… And impossible projects… The ideas have been good enough… But maybe sometimes the timing wasn’t right; we were too early with some things, or maybe we didn’t have the right resources for the task. Things are also very much about having the right experience and the right timing… It was there, and since I have always been very into in design, which is something I am truly passionate about, it was natural for me to pursue the project ‘A seat in Siena’.
Trine: IT IS A FUNNY NAME… WHY EXACTLY THAT NAME?
Iben: Originally the chair was designed in 1960 and was made for a fisherman, who was in need of a small,
simple chair, which had to be moved easily around on his boat. He should also be able to take it with him on his many journeys around the world. The last place he ended up was in Siena and the chair remained there. Until it many years later came to Denmark and we updated the design and relaunched it in 2021 under the name ‘A seat in Siena’.
But the stool has also opened doors to new and exciting projects. After the summer-holiday, I am throwing myself into a new project as co-founder and marketing-director of a newly started e-commerce platform, that is called ‘Green Collective’. It is a platform which markets and sells lifestyle and design products, all with the common-tread of incorporating sustainability into the production-model. All products are born “sustain” to so speak. We are in the startup-phase now… But we have many plans and ideas. Among them; a dream that more than 50% of all our employees will be women. It may not be very politically correct to say this… But both my partner Katrine and I have worked in very male-dominated fields, where as a woman it hasn’t always been easy to push through. Therefore we have developed a big love for creating a work-environment, where the feminine way to think and act is given more space.
Trine: WHAT CHALLENGES ARE YOU EXPERIENCING AS A WOMAN IN YOUR PROFESSIONAL LIFE AND DO YOU THINK IT IS GENDER RELATED?
Iben: We are in the middle of transitional-era in relation to gender and how we perceive gender. But I feel that I still have expectations of my role as a woman, which in reality probably
has more to do with my own upbringing and the time which I am a product of, more so than my outside circumstances.
Trine: THAT I RECOGNISE ALL TOO WELL… AND I THINK YOU ARE COMPLETELY RIGHT AND DO YOU FEEL IT IS HARD TO FREE YOURSELF OF IT?
Iben: Yes, it can be really hard to free yourself of these expectations and cut the strings that, as a result, have been pulling you. In my generation there is probably still a bit of shame associated with being both strong and 100% liberated as a woman. I think it is a shared responsibility to cut those strings.
Trine: WHAT NEEDS TO HAPPEN FOR US TO MOVE FORWARD?
Iben: Speaking up - and that we keep shining a light on the subject, from all different angles and with all the different voices. That is precisely why the whole gender-debate is really important to keep alive, because it is only through conversation that we can work through and change things, especially those that can be hard to say out loud…
Trine: DO YOU THINK THERE IS A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MEN AND WOMEN?
Iben: Physically yes, but mentally the perceived differences might be more influenced by culture and common language that we grew up with and were shaped by.
Trine: BECAUSE WOMEN SHOULD BE SWEET, SOFT AND CARING AND MEN ARE ALLOWED TO BE HARD AND DECISIVE?
Iben: Yes, because it is socially acceptable that men are decisive, as well as; to dare make the tough decisions - and stand their ground on the unpopular decisions. In such situations there is a big difference in how a woman is perceived, who under the exact same premise makes the same decision.
Trine: AND HERE WOMEN ARE MAYBE HARDER ON WOMEN?
Iben: Yes, that might be right, and it is maybe because we are being mirrored in our own gender and therefore it is easier and more apparent for us to judge other women’s behaviour.
Trine: AND MAYBE MEN DOESN’T EVEN REGISTER THE SAME THINGS ABOUT WOMEN, AS WE DO?
Iben: No, - it probably all comes down to our own self-perception, and I think that if we are to really do something about this then we have to take a look at our own behaviour in the world, and in that way be role-models for the future generations.
In that light the whole gender-debate suddenly makes a lot of sense… It forces us to question the premise and through it gives us the possibility to collectively deconstruct our preconceived notions of ourselves and each other.
Trine: YES, WE HAVE A HUGE RESPONSIBILITY TO DEAL WITH THESE THINGS BY BEING LESS CONSUMED BY EACH OTHER’S AND OUR OWN EXPECTATIONS, AS TO HOW WE SHOULD ALL BEHAVE… AND DEFINITELY BE MUCH BETTER TO NOT JUDGE OTHERS, AS WELL AS OURSELVES, AS HARSHLY AS WE PROBABLY DO. IT IS A REALLY EXCITING CONVERSATION IBEN, THAT SHOULD CONTINUE FOR MUCH LONGER, BUT FOR NOW I WANT TO THANK YOU FOR OPENING IT UP… BECAUSE AS YOU SAID YOURSELF…IT IS A SUBJECT THAT CAN BE HARD TO TALK ABOUT AND IT DEMANDS COURAGE TO SAY SOME OF THESE THINGS OUT LOUD.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME IBEN AND FOR WANTING TO SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS.