It wasn’t until my friend Chris Tonnesen shot their new pictures, I really noticed them. Today Hansen, a family ownen company that dates back more than 100 years, is run by 3rd. and 4th. generation, John and Michael Hansen. Oswald Hansen (1891) and his brother Hans (1895) were educated saddle-makers and upholsterers. They inspired both of Oswald’s sons, Eiler (1916) and Thorkild (1922) to follow the same occupation. Eiler’s son, John soon decided to go in the same direction and became an educated upholsterer as well. In 1959, father and son Eiler Hansen and John Hansen established a furniture production company of their own, named Hansen & Hansen.
Tell in short, what is HANSEN?
For four generations, the Hansen family has worked with upholstery and furniture production. Today, the 3rd. and 4th. generation are in charge of the family-run business. Last year we flicked through our 55-year-old furniture archives of product pictures, sketches and catalogues, and stumbled across The Chair and The Footstool, which haven’t been in production since the early ‘70s. Not only was the design still very interesting and inspiring but so was the story behind the initial concept.
This year we re-launched the collection.
How would you describe your design DNA?
The original idea was that every piece had to be well proportioned, functional and comfortable with clean lines. We believe this is as relevant today as almost 60 years ago, why the only change is the fabric and colour palette. The collection is still characterized by great craftsmanship, a unique simple design and an inherent sense of quality. All locally produced in the south east of Denmark.
What has been your greatest challenge?
When doing the re-launch we had different ambitions but also barriers to overcome.
With the re-launch we wanted to focus on the original design but with a modified concept by breathing new life into each piece. The idea behind the colour choice was that the furniture’s should have the ability to discreetly light up any type of space. We spend quite some time reflecting on different fabrics and colours. In the end our choice landed on the quality wool fabric we currently are using – we are very pleased with that choice.
What do you dream about?
We take one step at a time, which kind of has always been the philosophy of the business. Our initial dream when doing the re-launch was to get our products out there. To see our furniture’s in the Danish homes – Once again. We have achieved that, but have also shipped The Footstool and The Chair to Australia, Switzerland, Iceland, Norway, Dubai and the US, which is absolutely great. We love making furniture that people use on a daily basis, which hopefully will also bring people together.
What is the first thing you think about Monday morning?
Coffee. First things first. We are usually pretty excited about what each day will bring of opportunities, unanticipated events and what challenges to overcome – but our workweek never really ends since we still work and discuss different subjects on Saturdays and Sundays. We both enjoy that in a way, always to be moving. We are both damaged goods in the sense of usually thinking about furniture – not only what and how to develop and design, but also in what direction the Danish furniture industry is heading.
Which product would you want to see updated in the future, so your everyday life would become easier?
We both like simple solutions, but we are always interested in techniques we have not seen before. It is difficult to put a finger on some specific product that could be updated – sometimes people just don’t know what they want before they get the opportunity. We do believe that the design is what adds value to a product, no matter what category we are talking about. Further, we cherish locally produced products, which comes with a personal story, and wish more brands would seek to do so.
Who is your favourite designer?
Tough question. There are so many talented designers out there, but one of our favourites right now is the Canadian artist and designer Stephen Kenn – he is quite diverse and very inspiring.
What would you wish I had asked?
Probably whom we owe a big thank you? No company can stand alone without help from family and friends. We have been so lucky to be able to collaborate with great people we know, such as designer Rasmus Landgreen, photographer Chris Tonnesen and designer Hrafnhildur Gudrunardottir. Without them, we couldn’t have done this.