COMING HOME is a remarkable feeling – whether it’s stepping through the front door after a long journey, or in a more abstract sense, returning to something, perhaps even ourselves. Maja Brix, who runs a label in her own name, launched a grand start to her career upon returning to Copenhagen after graduating from Central Saint Martins, in London.
She merely wanted to go back to work before commencing her master’s degree in fashion – but never did. Henrik Vibskov, the now iconic Danish fashion designer, wanted her to develop and manage his line of womenswear. Nine years later, after her own projects started taking up ever more space in her head, she pursued creating her own brand.
Today, she has her shared studio space and store, 71 Studio/Store in central Copenhagen where she created a small, essential line of designs based on an ethically focused business plan. We meet Maja Brix in her top floor studio apartment, with a stunning view of Copenhagen’s beautiful, old centre. Much like her designs, nothing in this space is superfluous or purely decorative. Every centimetre is used to make room for her and her two small children.
The Values of Fashion
Maja Brix started on her own, with the wish to create a sustainable fashion brand in multiple senses. Not only did she want to make clothes of better materials and with a longer life; she also wanted to craft a work-life in the fashion industry which allowed being a mother of two small children. This means some nights are still long, but she is not pressed to launch several collections a year, as the traditional fashion industry demands. Instead, she has a carefully curated portfolio with a handful of long-lasting designs: a suit, a dress, a shirt, and a scarf among other things – all available in several materials making the design look and feel entirely different. Much more than clothing, each design presents a concept and logic of its own, one could say:
“With Suit 1, I wanted to explore what masculinity is, the same way I wanted to discuss femininity with Dress 1; you can be both masculine and feminine in so many ways today. What I make is value-based clothing. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it political, but they are a product of thought.” Maja Brix says and continues: “But the products have to work by themselves without one knowing the words behind the concept. I want people to buy it simply because they think it’s good design.”
”But the products have to work by themselves without one knowing the words behind the concept"
Having and managing her own business means that now there is a lot of administration to sort through during a single day, leaving little time for drawing and thinking up new designs. But to Maja, it’s a constant process which she never turns off – always on the lookout for new inspiration:
“I have a giant image catalogue, and I’m always in the process of finding inspiration and thinking up new concepts. Just recently, I was sorting out some drawings the kids made, and suddenly I saw all this jewellery in them.”
The source of inspiration may be sudden and unexpected, but in her work, Maja Brix leaves nothing to chance:
“I’m very aware that it is clothing I make. But all the way back to my studies, I’ve been engaged with the thought of why we do what we do. That is my raison d’être: There has to be a good reason to do what we do. We take part in shaping the world, and we have a responsibility for the values and objects we produce and send out into the world,” she says.
Home with a Heart
Upon meeting Maja, it becomes clear that she pours her heart into everything she does. Even if her space is small, and the place temporary, she finds it important to make it feel homey – and that to Maja means, personal.
“I don’t really buy that many things, but everything I have was very carefully selected,” Maja tells and points out that even though she carefully chooses what stays and what goes, most of the things are, in fact, either gifts or something she inherited from family or friends. Within that the children are everywhere; a set of colouring pens and a LEGO police station are just two traces of their activities
”I don’t really buy that many things, but everything I have was very carefully selected,”
Her work is an integral part of her life, but she still takes the time to create a calm atmosphere for her family before the little ones go to school, every morning. To take care of herself, she goes swimming in the harbour – even in winter – finding moments of quiet in the sauna afterwards.
“Not just in my life, but everyone I know is currently living at a high pace. We all have interesting careers, projects, and families, so those small moments of doing absolutely nothing, have to be forced into our schedules,” Maja tells, and can’t avoid a small laugh as she admits that even if she tried to ban working from home at night, it would be practically impossible. Her home, despite its modest size, is often filled up with people and life; small dinner parties or children camping out in a fortress in the living room. Work, social life, ambitions – Maja Brix wants it all, but at the end of the day, it comes down to one thing:
“It’s important for me to feel at home. Having my things around me is important, although they merely frame a place, of where my life unfolds with my kids.”