I am all about successful entrepreneurs. I am so fascinated with how creative people’s minds work, how they see something that is missing in the world, and I am not just talking a new chair or something. We all want a great kitchen, which these days, we all can get at reasonable prices at Ikea. The issue with an Ikea kitchen is maybe just that it is a little dull and not super designer. Jeppe and Michael saw exactly that too and started Reform, a company that makes fronts to your Ikea cabinets – making your kitchen MUCH nicer. Since the start, which is only 1,5 years ago, they have worked with 4 external, well-known Danish designers only on kitchens. That’s about to change, with three new designers and an extension into living room and bathroom furniture. I am looking for a new kitchen, and cannot wait to see the new designs, even though I do have my eye set on one of the Norm Architects ones. Anyway, I wanted to get to know the guys behind Reform a little bit better, as I said, I am all about the successful entrepreneurs.
Tell us, what is Reform and who are Jeppe and Michael?
Michael: We are two entrepreneurs who partnered up and founded Reform. We have both done start-ups before and know what it takes. I’m an engineer and Jeppe is an economist – and we are both very passionate design lovers. The idea with Reform was to create a very strong and well recognized brand that have the coolest designs at affordable prices making it available for most people.
Jeppe: Reform is a design company that wants to change the kitchen industry and the way that we buy kitchens today. We collaborate with the best designers and architects to “hack” IKEAs cabinets. This combination makes it possible for our clients to get an affordable designer kitchen – and that’s our finest mission.
What is your background?
Michael: I’m an engineer by education and worked a couple of years as one before switching to the developer business. After a couple of years as CEO at a panty liner factory I ended up working at BIG Bjarke Ingels Group before deciding being 100% dedicated to doing start-ups. I’m working as the CSO of Reform, while Jeppe is the CEO.
Jeppe: My education is cand.merc. from Copenhagen Business School, so much more math than design, but I’ve always been interested in design, especially furniture design, which is also why I a couple of years ago took a basic class in carpentry. Before I started Reform along with Michael, I worked as a marketing manager and later as a business developer in a Danish company, while I was partner in a small design and manufacturing company called Furnish.
How would you describe your style and work?
Michael: intuitive and messy.
Jeppe: Classical, personal, maybe a bit twisted, as I like to mix things and styles. I think you should put your own touch to things. It’s allowed to be different!
How do you pick who do design kitchens for you?
Michael: It is actually quite easy. We only work with cool guys. Of course they have to do great designs and be some of the best in their field, but to me it is also very important that they are nice to work with. You spend a lot of time together and some difficult decisions are always to be made in a design process; and life is too short to work with idiots, sorry. So far, we have been really lucky with the teams that we worked with – including the new ones launching very soon*. They all wanted to work with us; they loved the idea and are really awesome people.
Which is your favourite kitchen?
Michael: I’m just about to get a new kitchen installed at my own home in Copenhagen, and beside the fact that I also had to agree with my wife, I had to choose between some cool designs. I really love all our designs, as they all have their own qualities and features. We have three kids who always have friends over, a dog and three cats. They all use the kitchen in a more or less ruthless manner – so we ended up with a Basis 01 design kitchen with Linoleum fronts in dark blue. It looks beautiful, it’s easy to maintain and with the Linoleum on the fronts is very resistant against scratches.
Jeppe: I love our newest design from Sigurd Larsen (*hint hint) in the color anthracite. It’s our most thorough product. And then I really like the idea behind the design; a flat piece of aluminium which is folded, and it’s the fold that creates the handle. Plates that cooperating, as the grip is a part of the front and not something that is put on. It’s two materials that interact with each other.
What has been the greatest challenge being an entrepreneur?
Michael: Taking the decision and quitting a $ 200.000 prestigious job to be a poor entrepreneur working 24/7 for a dream was the hard part. When the decision was made and my family supported me, it was just to do it. I sometimes feel the pressure from myself wanting to be successful so bad, but the actual decision to do it was the greatest challenge.
What are your biggest regrets?
Michael: I started as a fulltime entrepreneur at the age of 40! If any regrets, that is. I should have started at the age of 25.
What do you dream about?
Michael: I dream about a huge load of stuff! I dream about expanding Reforms cool design to other furniture’s together with our great partners, I want to ride the Tour de France, I dream about traveling to outer space, I dream about living till I’m 200 years old…
Jeppe: That Reform will grow and become a successful company all over the world and that all our customers will enjoy our concept. Personal I dream about living a good life; to be happy most of the days. I dream of having a fun life!
What is the first thing you think about Monday morning?
Michael: Business – I know it’s embarrassing. Family, health and stuff like that is a more appropriate answer, but the truth is business.
Jeppe: I want to kiss my girlfriend! And next after that I think it’s what the plan for the day is and honestly, I don’t think that I’ve had a day the last couple of years with Reform, where I wasn’t excited about what the workday would bring.
What country have you always dreamt about visiting?
Jeppe: Argentina! I’ve never been there, but my grandfather lived there together with my mother for some years, so we have always talked a lot about Buenos Aires in my family.
Michael: NYC. I have been traveling a lot and I especially love big cities. When you are in NYC you just get the feeling that you are in the capital of the world. I have had the privilege to work in NYC, and the more time I spend there the better it gets.
Jeppe: Copenhagen, Paris or NYC. NYC because you get an insane feeling that everything in the world is possible, Paris because it’s the city of love, it’ beautiful to walk around in, and Copenhagen because everything is so compressed and all my friends and family is around.
Michael: Hotel Americano 27th street NYC. I have stayed there a couple of times, it’s cozy, have good food and a skybar to get wasted – it’s a good place.
Jeppe: Goods at Østerbro – the selection of men’s clothes is perfect, and Kasper the owner is a really nice guy.
Which book are you reading at the moment?
Michael: I only read what people normally consider very boring books. I just finished Pikettys “Capital in the 21 century” – not a very good book, but the first French economist, I’ve read. The best book I’ve read was “On the Origin of Species” by Darwin, and I’m considering reading it for the third time.
What is your favourite (music) track at the moment?
Michael: “Beat it” by Michael Jackson. I know it’s stupid and Jeppe is desperately trying to teach me something about music, but Michael Jackson is the best
Jeppe: “She Burns” by Foy Vans, “Gents” with Young Again and “Jamie Woon” with Gravity.
Michael: Bjarke Ingels. I had the privilege of working at BIG with Bjarke and his team for a couple of years, both in CPH and NYC, and I have known the guys since the PLOT days and the way they work, how they manage the process and what they get out in the end is crazy. I love their work and their embracement of change.
Jeppe: I’m having a new love affair with Swedish Afteroom. I really like what they are doing! And Norm Architects is so great at everything they touch – and are the nicest people as well.
Michael: Great scientists like Bohr, Darwin or Milton Friedman. Those are the guys who changed the world to a better place for millions of people.
Jeppe: Elon Musk, he’s perhaps a little too crazy, but I like that he pushes boundaries and is a dreamer. Claus Meyer, because he is true to his beliefs and dreams, and then I had the pleasure to meet him in NYC, and he is a very likeable man. I could also mention many from my private life, but my good friend Poul, as he is so open-minded and meets all people as they are.