FEATURED MEMBER – Rie Nørregaard

Posted on January 17, 2011



Rie Nørregaard is Creative Director for the New York product design firm Omhu.

Omhu are a design company who specialise in products for the elderly or disables. The company came about as its founders, Rie along with Susy Korb and Susan Towers, were unable to find well-designed products for their friends and relatives who needed help walking, bathing or reaching things. Their first success came with a birch, aluminium and rubber cane in six colours and three sizes. They have also put together a wall mount that provides reassuring illumination in the night, and a shower seat that´s also a garden chair. Initiated with their own funding, the firm is now set to achieve $2-3 million of sales in 2011.


Boasting a wealth of experience in the design industry, Rie has worked with renowned consumer brand such as OXO, Johnson & Johnson, Samsung, Microsoft, Sony Ericsson and Nike. She lectures regularly and is a widely respected figure in the industry. She trained as a communication designer in Copenhagen before working as a designer for LEGO and Copenhagen Airport.


Q.  What led you to pursue product design as a creative outlet?
A.  I think my family (which includes many designers, artists and architects) and where I grew up:  Copenhagen, Denmark.

Q.  What inspires you in your designs?
A.  Problems are inspiring of course – so is beauty.

Q.  Can you tell us more about Omhu’s purpose of catering to the needs of the less mobile? What led you to pursue such a specific goal?
A.  It’s a very personal story. A couple of years ago my husband’s parents started to need a lot of help from us. I had to go shopping for canes, walkers, bath chairs – and other products that could help them. But I couldn’t find anything l liked – and I’m a good shopper! So that’s when I decided to start OMHU.

Q.  What else does Omhu have lined up?
A.  We’re launching a line of products that many people need for different reasons. But what they all share is that anyone can enjoy our products – so stay tuned.

Q.  Where does a design start for you? What are your initial steps?
A.  An observation of something that doesn’t exist – or when I come in contact with something that that could be a lot better – that’s where I start. Then I get a feeling for materials I’d like to use.

Q.  You’ve had a distinguished career. What project are you most proud of?
A.  Years ago I worked with Jaime Levy to make Malice Palace. It was a first generation social network and online meeting place – there was nothing like it at the time. That was pretty cool. But I’m most proud of OMHU’s first project.

Q.  What has been your most difficult project?
A.  Not sure. When I’m working working very hard to solve a design problem a lot of times that feels like the hardest thing yet – but only until I’m onto the next project.
Q.  What would be your dream project?
A.  My dream project is right here, right now.

Q.  How is the world of design changing at the moment? What trends are emerging that will affect the nature of the industry?
A.  I used to be interested in redesigning airport security. Now I think not traveling is a good trend. Food and production of food is another big deal. A lot of people are working on vertical farming We need people to design and manage food production in an urban environment – those are new jobs and design challenges.
We’re getting older – that is one of my favorite trends of course. We need to think about how we want to live for the rest of our lives . Not how they should live in retirement and nursing homes.  It’s too expensive – and from what I understand very boring.

Q.  What do you hope to achieve in the next year?
A.  We’re launching some important products this year. So with products I want people to get to know and love OMHU. And I personally would like to run an ultra-marathon.

Q.  How do you hope Pelime can help with this?
A.  Pelime can connect designers and thinkers who are interested in OMHU’s concept. That’s great – thanks Pelime!


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