Mr P. My Way: Mr Mathias Mentze
The architect invites us into his studio to talk us through his daily uniform
When it comes to working attire, Mr Mathias Mentze is a man with particular requirements. “I have to be able to cycle in it,” he says. “In Copenhagen, everyone gets around by bike.” Then, there’s the question of formality. As the co-founder of architecture firm Studio 0405, he splits his time between his studio and client meetings around the city. “I need something that works in both scenarios,” he explains. While the majority of his clients are Danish retail companies such as Kvadrat and Bang & Olufsen, others are even more prestigious. After Studio 0405 was recently awarded the contract to renovate the public residence of Mr Lars Løkke Rasmussen, the Prime Minister of Denmark, Mr Mentze found himself holding consultations with the most powerful man in the country.
Whether in the studio or at a meeting, the cornerstone of Mr Mentze’s working wardrobe is the suit. “I wear one almost every day,” he says. “I don’t necessarily use the jacket, though. I only put that on when I need to be a little more formal.” What qualities does he look for? “Texture, cut and depth of colour,” he says. “Beyond that, it also has to project a sense of authority.” At just 30 years old, and with boyish looks, Mr Mentze admits that he might come across as precocious when sitting down with men twice his age. But he rejects the suggestion that a suit might be some kind of mask for him to hide behind. “I like to think of my suit as an extension of who I am,” he says. “If I ever felt like I was playing a grown-up, or trying to be someone that I wasn’t, I wouldn’t wear one.”
A graduate of the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, where he studied architecture, Mr Mentze has been fascinated with visual communication from an early age. “I was a very nerdy teenager,” he says. “I was obsessed with birdwatching. I guess that this informed a lot of what I do today. It’s all about paying attention to the finer details, like the feathers on the wing of a songbird. I like things that reward you the more you look.” Mr Mentze founded Studio 0405 shortly after graduation with his twin brother, Nikolaj, naming the company after their shared date of birth. From their light-flooded offices in a converted warehouse building in Copenhagen’s hip Nørrebro quarter, they operate a multifaceted practice that incorporates everything from set design and interiors to product design.
What are the practical challenges of getting dressed in Copenhagen?
The seasons change quite dramatically here, and we depend on our clothes to protect us from the elements. We’re very close to nature; a lot of Copenhageners have summer houses in the north, and it’s common to spend the weekend out of the city walking by the sea. There’s an inherent practicality to the way we dress.
Is it a very dressy crowd?
Not at all. The buzz around Copenhagen as a cultural destination was triggered by the food scene and restaurants like Noma, which became one of the most successful in the world despite not having any tablecloths. That’s typical of the way we are here. I never wear a tie. Well, maybe a bow tie at weddings.
Do you follow trends?
I follow what’s going on in fashion, in the same way that I follow what’s going on in contemporary art. I like to collect certain pieces that resonate with me – pieces I feel reflect the spirit of the time. But trends don’t really mean anything to me. Just because a lot of people notice the same thing at the same time doesn’t make it any more or less interesting.
Why do you think clothes are so good at reflecting a certain moment?
Fashion is driven by desire, and that desire comes from where people want to be or want to go. I also think that it’s very immediate compared to other creative industries. It picks up on pop culture. When you’re working with architects on big construction projects, for instance, everything takes place in a much longer timeframe. By the time the house is finished, the ideas might be a couple of years old.
Is there a connection between your taste in clothes and interiors? Are they all part of a shared aesthetic?
All of these disciplines are connected. I see parallels in the way colour is applied to the fabric of a suit and the way that it’s applied to a ceramic glaze. When you look at my workspace, it’s very white, very neutral. This is similar to the way I dress for work, too. I like to have a blank canvas, a surface that I can project something onto. We work with a lot of different visual languages and I don’t want them to be affected by my personal taste. I want to stay open to different influences, different impressions.