Thomas Dambo: Creation in the Wake of Waste

The creations of life are plenty at Thomas Dambo’s workshop.

Author: Pierce Morton
Photos: Federica Piazza

In Copenhagen, lies a large complex of Nordhavnen warehouses, and within this complex lies a powerful piece of Denmark’s creative overflow. More and more creativity is arising from within the people of Denmark, and Thomas Dambo has shown us the capacity that this creativity has for change.

Two weeks ago Materiale Centralen had the honour of visiting Dambo’s workshop in Nordhavnen amongst the other warehouses surrounded by sea. His tucked away factory of upcycled life enlightened us to a whole other dimension of material rebirth. The materials that Thomas Dambo uses for his projects, his workshop, and pretty much everything is upcycled from places with no longer any use for them. Imagining these materials dispersed in an array of unsalvageable mess was hard to comprehend after witnessing the incredible organisation found within Dambo’s workshop. We were lucky enough to have Federica Piazza come along and take some photos of the awe-inspiring workshop, which are featured below.

Thomas Dambo uses objects procured through businesses, private actors, water damage, festivals, etc… (One clothing store provided the flooring for Dambo’s workshop room). Considering the range of materials, Dambo has been able to maintain an organised studio, with efficiency and a solid aesthetic. He has now reached the stage where he can scavenge for materials in his own workshop. The organisation of objects was something that amazed us as a team that works with used materials.

For the time we had with Thomas Dambo, he gave us a wealth of knowledge far exceeding our expectations. He filled us in on his methods and his work, and we learnt a lot from his creativity and drive. His focus on the end goal of each creation was inspiring both within the realm of Materiale Centralen, but also upon our personal ideals. At one time he stated, “If you build with trash, you have to organise it.” This summarised an element of what we do at Materiale Centralen and it was quite important for us to hear the significance of organisation when working with discarded materials.

After moving into the warehouse studio just last year at the beginning of December, he and his team have managed to create a functioning workplace with an abundance of both creativity and practicality. His team currently consists of 5-8 people from Chile, New York, Brazil, Latvia, all around the world really, contributing both full time and as interns. The team is aligned by Dambo’s strong sense of vision and direction, which he aims to combine to create things that are “original, funny and creative”. In addition to this his works are important.

In many respects his work not only contributes to the magic of the world around us, but also does so by highlighting what is important in the world around us. To reduce waste is not just optimal; it has become a necessity. Not only do Dambo’s projects proclaim an artistic prowess that runs through the blood of Denmark, they truly are a testament to the ideas that are found during the wonderful function of upcycling. The pieces created by Dambo and his team are not solely for aesthetic, they also embody the second life that should be given to old materials. The correlation between artistic creation and material rebirth is prevalent through most of Dambo’s work. His pieces, such as the 6 Forgotten Giants and the Happy City Birds, interact with the changing environmental landscape by breathing life into unexpected areas of forest or cityscapes, as well as promoting an environment that is itself living and sustainable.

During our time at the warehouse studio Thomas Dambo emphasised that “Design begins with material.” No wonder the philosophies of Thomas Dambo and Materiale Centralen align so strongly, as he was one of the first people key to the origins and success of Guldminen. Thomas Dambo’s willingness to contribute to projects with positive approaches is hand in hand with the philosophy of Materiale Centralen.

His generosity and kindness in his approach for positive action, is something we are so thankful for at Materiale Centralen. At the end of our journey through Thomas Dambo’s workshop world, we continued to be inspired to create connections with those happy to make a positive impact on the world through creation, to ultimately help build a circular economy. If you are one of those people please let us know, as we’d love to provide you with the materials you need to make a difference. In any case, we hope you are inspired by Thomas Dambo’s work and are compelled to create without waste.

Thomas Dambo:



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s