Since the first time he bought a pile of weathered timber from a decommissioned Danish wharf and started building beautiful furniture with it, Carsten Thor has been one of Herning's sustainability pioneers.
From a distance you can sense that the tall, dark wooden table that serves as a gathering point in Bæredygtig Herning's lounge area is not just any other piece of furniture. One’s eyes and hands are drawn to the uneven but silky-smooth surface, and the four-meter-long planks whisper a tale one cannot help but hear. The azobé wood on top was once a bulwark in a Danish wharf. For half a century, the wood took its fair share of underwater beatings. That was before it came under the care of Carsten Thor and his team at Thor's Design. Carsten buys this kind of wood from Danish ports that are either retired or being rebuilt. And, so far, he has managed to bring new life to timber from a total of seven Danish wharves. Timber that has been turned into plank tables, picnic tables, chairs, planters, and much more.
"My company has existed since 2001 - since before there was something called sustainability," says Carsten. "When I started, it was just called common sense, and that's still the way I look at it. You can’t build a business by selling something just because it is sustainable. You have to make a product that people want. The furniture we make from reclaimed wood brings something to a room. Our pieces come with a warmth, history and something tactile, which fit perfectly in luxury homes with herringbone floors, in humble farmhouses, and even in exclusive meeting rooms and restaurants.”
"You can’t build a business by selling something just because it is sustainable. You have to make a product that people want"
Carsten Thor | Owner, Thors Design
In Carsten's eyes we’ve become too myopic in our definition of sustainability - we focus too much on the carbon footprint and too little on all the other aspects that make a product sustainable.
“Sustainability is much more than CO2 – it’s also about the durability of what you buy. How long can it stand? Our furniture lasts at least 50-100 years, and that in itself is sustainable. Social sustainability is another aspect. Our wood is cut at a sawmill where many of the employees have experienced hardships of one type or another. We help them feel they are contributing to something greater and try to give them some dignity in their work, and that kind of social sustainability is important, too.”
"Sustainability is much more than CO2 - it is also about the durability of what you buy. How long can it stand? Our furniture lasts at least 50-100 years, and that in itself is sustainable"
Carsten Thor, Owner, Thors Design
Carsten's sustainability philosophy is holistic and down-to-earth, but also optimistic with regards to technology. He does not believe in going to extremes like giving up all consumption or modern conveniences. He believes in common sense and balance - and that many of the answers must be found in new and green technology. And he believes in educating citizens about sustainability – which is one of the reasons why he became a member of Bæredygtig Herning.
"I don’t lack sparring to make my business more sustainable – that’s not why I am a member. I am a member because I want to inspire sustainability in others. Of course, it's great that my furniture is seen by so many at Bæredygtig Herning's office, but, to me it's not so much about getting new business - it's about inspiring others to create a better planet.”
At Bæredygtig Herning’s showroom: Two plank tables made of reclaimed azobé wood from a decommissioned Danish wharf.