Fritz Hansen – the Danish company behind the design classics
The five new design suites recently unveiled by Fritz Hansen at the Radisson Collection Royal Hotel are the last word in classic and modern furniture design. The suites are a natural extension of an historic cooperation between Arne Jacobsen’s iconic hotel and the furniture company, both of whom occupy a unique place in Danish design history. It was the world’s first designer hotel and it was Fritz Hansen that manufactured these very designs.
The Fritz Hansen showroom in Allerød is full of best-selling products. Jacobsen’s Egg, Swan, Series 7 and Ant chairs stand side by side with Wegner’s China chair and Kjærholm’s PK22 easy chair. Kaare Klint, Verner Panton, Piet Hein and Børge Mogensen are other designers that feature in the incomparable Fritz Hansen back catalog.
Jacobsen in particular helped cement the Fritz Hansen design profile in the 1950s. The company’s big breakthrough came with the very first form-molded laminated chair, The Ant, in 1952.
“Arne Jacobsen wanted to create a chair for the canteen at Novo Nordisk, that only had three legs,” the company guide says. “At the same time, he wanted these special curves in the backrest, which was incredibly difficult to manufacture, which meant Fritz Hansen was initially opposed to the project. Bur Jacobsen persuaded the company to make a trial production of 1,000 as a test run – which he could earmark for Novo Nordisk – and the rest is history.”
The Ant was the first of a series of Arne Jacobsen chairs, of which the most successful was the Series 7 from 1955, the best-selling chair in Fritz Hansen’s history. The original intention was for it to be made to in plastic. However, this proved impossible, and instead, the solution was a laminate consisting of nine super thin wooden layers glued together, form molded and painted. The laminate is produced using different types of wood and is available in a natural finish or choice of colors. Add four thin, chromed steel legs and voila, the most sold - and most copied - stackable chair in the history of furniture design.
Jacobsen’s popularity reached new heights with his iconic Egg, Swan and Drop chairs, that were created for the SAS Royal Hotel, Copenhagen, which opened in 1960. The Egg, created for the hotel lounge area, has achieved international design classic status and is still considered one of the world's most beautiful chairs.
A leather upholstered Egg uses two whole hides and is still sewn by hand by a small team of specialists. They can upholster 2-3 chairs a week, which means the price tag is out of reach for many people. Even so, this has not diminished its appeal and a special edition of the chair in pure, natural leather plus gold plated aluminum base was recently produced to celebrate its 60th anniversary.
What’s so special about the Egg?
“The Egg embraces you and gives you a feeling of having your own private space, even if you’re sitting in an open area,” Mette says[JA1] . “The Egg feels instinctively good, even though your back is completely screened, the chair can swivel which means you can follow what’s going on around you,” the guide says.
Fritz Hansen is renowned as a guardian of Denmark’s design heritage, with generations of experience in spotting fine, timeless design that has resulted in commissioning some of the most prominent architects and designers of the age.
Current flag bearers for the brand include Jamie Hayon of Spain, Hiromichi Konno of Japan and Danes Kasper Salto and Cecilie Manz, who all have a design language that expresses their individuality while complementing Fritz Hansen’s classic profile.
In fact, Manz has been crowned 2018 Designer of The Year by French lifestyle, decoration and design trade fair Maison & Objet, just one of several prestigious awards she has won for her simple, functional style. We spy a future classic at Fritz Hansen.
Published: May 8, 2018
Last edited: May 8, 2018