Home series #4

Martin Solem

Home Series are conversations with friends of Minor Things about parenthood, work-life balance and treasured items.

Martin Solem

Martin lives in central Copenhagen with his wife and two children, Linnea and Kasper. Originally from Arendal, Norway, he studied at the Royal Danish Academy of Arts in Copenhagen and now heads product development at HAY.

When did you become a parent, and what surprised you most about the transition?

We became parents to our seven-year-old daughter Linnea in October 2016 and to our one-year-old son Kasper in February 2023. After being told numerous times about the transition by those close to me who already had children, I felt very prepared and was not so surprised. It can be extremely challenging, but most of all, it is an amazing life changer.

The Kofi table is Martin's own design for HAY
The Linnea doll resting on Daisy Bedding Camel

How has having children affected your work life?

In general having one child was more stressful to me than having two, as having two children made me realize I had to slow down in every aspect of my life, which is now more balanced.

You work as a designer. Are you living with some of your designs?

Yes, various objects in our apartment, like our dining table, side tables, and stools, are some of my old prototypes. It’s fun to have them around.

Bed Canopy Green over Linnea's bed
One of Martin's first prototypes from design school - a stool made from the same piece of wood

What items are you collecting?

Inspired by my grandparents' home, where the walls were almost covered with art, I also like to collect art. Lately, I have started looking for works by the Norwegian painter and illustrator Louis Moe, who is known for his many book illustrations, especially children's books. Louis was born in Arendal, my childhood town in Norway, but lived most of his adult life in Copenhagen. When the kids grow older I would like to collect more furniture.

What is your favorite item in your home and why?

Our kitchen machine brings me good memories from my childhood. I clearly remember baking with my mum, and I like to pass on the same memories to our children. Right now, our coffee machine is also a favourite that saves us when getting up at 5 a.m.

The latest addition to Martin's Louis Moe collection on the wall
Dog Coat Rack in the hallway

What are your favorite places to go with kids in Copenhagen?

On the weekends, we often go to one of the many great parks in Copenhagen, like Kings Garden or Botanical Garden. We also walk along the city harbor, jumping on the trampolines and in the harbor pool. We recently bought an annual pass at SMK (the National Gallery of Denmark), mainly to access their great children's workshop.

Have you created anything fun with your kids at home?

My wife is one of the most creative people I know, and our daughter loves to join her creative universe. Most of what they create together is made from household waste, like a small playhouse for small mice, a favorite toy for years.

Growth Chart Original in the living room
A little play house for toy mice made from household waste

Could you provide any advice on how to involve kids in home decoration?

Buy a glue gun and see what you can make from your household waste. It's often more fun to play with than all the commercial toys.

The interview has been edited for clarity.
Published on May 31st, 2024.