As it celebrates its 150th anniversary we delve into the history of Fritz Hansen

From simple beginnings in southern Denmark to the design powerhouse we know today, collaboration has always been the key to this furniture brand’s success

fritz hansen
Fritz Hansen

Iconic is a word that’s often used in reference to furniture design, but when it comes to real icons, it’s fair to say that only certain pieces truly make the grade. Testament, then, to the unparalleled skill of the designers and craftspeople who have worked for and with Fritz Hansen over the last 150 years, that so many of the company’s products can genuinely be labelled as such.

fritz hansen
1872: Furnituremaker Fritz Hansen starts trading in Copenhagen
Fritz Hansen

Instrumental to the brand’s rise is undoubtedly its collaborative approach, which has resulted in partnerships with some of the world’s most celebrated designers. ‘It goes without saying that Fritz Hansen creates functional, durable and beautiful furniture, but there has also always been collaboration,’ says Marie-Louise Høstbo, head of design at the Danish company.

‘With dialogue, co-creation in the workshop and respect for the skills of craftspeople, it becomes so much more than just a good idea from a designer.’

fritz hansen series 7 stacking chair arne jacobson
1955: Arne Jacobsen designs the ‘Series 7’, the innovative stacking chair that has become one of Fritz Hansen’s most popular pieces, now available in a wealth of different colours and finishes
Fritz Hansen

After World War II, the company continued to innovate, and the 1950s and 60s saw the development of some of Fritz Hansen’s best-loved pieces by a number of big-name designers, including Arne Jacobsen, who masterminded the ‘Ant’, ‘Swan’ and ‘Series 7’ seats, as well as the instantly recognisable ‘Egg ’ chair, created for the lobby at the SAS Royal Hotel in 1958.

fritz hansen arne jacobsen egg chair
1958: The iconic ’Egg’ chair is developed by Arne Jacobsen for the SAS Royal Hotel in Copenhagen, beginning the close relationship between Fritz Hansen designs and modern Danish landmarks
Fritz Hansen/Arne Jacobsen

More recently, co-creators have included Kasper Salto, Piero Lissoni, Nendo, Cecilie Manz and Jaime Hayon, all of whom have brought their magic to the classic Fritz Hansen DNA. ‘It’s about a common respect for history and curiosity. Styles have changed but relentless quality, a sense of materiality and aesthetic durability are the constant,’ explains Høstbo.

fritz hansen
Japanese design studio Nendo, founded by Oki Sato, creates the ‘N02 Recycle’ chair for Fritz Hansen, made from plastic household waste
Laura Fantacuzzi

The 150th anniversary sees the reissue of seven pieces, including some of Jacobsen’s chairs, reimagined in leather and Raf Simons for Kvadrat fabric, and Poul Kjærholm’s ‘PK61’ table in marble, as well as his ‘PK0 A’ chair and ‘PK60’ coffee table. Designed as a pair in 1952, the latter had never been put into production until now.

‘When we search the archive for pieces to relaunch, they need to be functional in relation to the way we work and live today,’ says Høstbo. ‘The table has a three-legged base like a sculpture, so you have a piece of art that’s also practical. It shows Kjærholm’s visionary talent that the table still enhances every space it’s placed in, even 70 years after it was designed.’

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