New York, USA

Co-Designing from Concept to Creation

Fritz Hansen and Bjarke Ingels Group + KiBiSi collaborated to co-create a lounge chair for the VIA57 West building. It started by finding a strong and creative conceptual idea upon which to base the design. The concept was developed to reflect the core ideas behind the building’s architecture and incorporate Fritz Hansen’s design philosophy, while taking visual, emotional, and rational bases for design direction.

In 1960, iconic Danish architect and designer Arne Jacobsen introduced Copenhagen’s first skyscraper, complete with a full suite of designs. Fast forward to 2016, and the parallels are undeniable as Bjarke Ingels and KiBiSi took Danish design abroad, reinvented the American skyscraper and presented the inviting VIA57™ lounge chair as the design centrepiece.

According to Bjarke Ingels, "The VIA57 chair combines Scandinavian simplicity and elegance with American comfort and generosity." The development process to create the VIA57™ is a combination of modelling by hand and digital modelling. Designed by, KiBiSi, this group was founded in Copenhagen by Lars Larsen, Bjarke Ingels and Jens Martin Skibsted. KiBiSi merges the faculties of its founding partners into a symbiotic hybrid of design, architecture and ideation. The design group looked to the shape of their skyscraper, explored every angle and gained a haptic understanding of comfort and utility. The result is soft comfort and a modular functionality that creates multiple settings—characterised by a visual appeal that makes VIA57™ the centre of attention. “The rotated corners allow a variety of social configurations while also evoking the tetrahedronical geometry of its parent architecture.” – Bjarke Ingels

The VIA57™ offers flexible modules and inventive design that easily fits into modern lifestyles. The easy reconfiguration option means it suits multiple purposes. It works beautifully as a small sofa for an intimate conversation or expanded to create a lounge area with a welcoming atmosphere. Equally, the VIA57™ lounge chair is made to stand out on its own as an inviting piece of sculpture that doubles as a piece of furniture.

"We never get a design proposal and then just start manufacturing the pieces. It's always a collaboration and a co-creation", says Marie-Louise Høstbo, Creative Design Director at Fritz Hansen. “Taking a design from concept to a functional piece of furniture is a process where creative ideas, proposals and Fritz Hansen’s internal knowledge come together.”

What resulted is a concept called “Scan-American”: a seamless blend of lean Scandinavian design meets generous American comfort. Its contours mirror that of its eponymous building with an openness and versatility that instils the lounge chair with a life beyond its original destination. At the same time, its carefully constructed form meets the Fritz Hansen standards of quality, detail, and ageless design.


Architect and BIG Partner, Thomas Christoffersen, shares his thoughts and reflections on the outcome of the VIA57 project six years later.

How has the ‘courtscraper’ concept been received in New York by its residents and neighbours?

"VIA57 has become its own little village on the Hudson. It has a very high occupancy rate, meaning people stay there longer, and empty apartments are quickly rented out. This and a growing sense of community with shared experiences and events throughout the year proved the building's success. As it is a hybrid between the European perimeter block and a traditional Manhattan high-rise, it combines the advantages of both: the compactness and efficiency of a courtyard building with the airiness and the expansive views of a skyscraper. The VIA57™ chair was designed with the same balance in mind: simple Scandinavian design with American comfort, versatile in its use."

The VIA57™ chair was created with a ‘Scan-American’ concept of simple aesthetic meets American comfort and generosity: was this combination successful?

“The design of the VIA57 chair was an attempt to create something in line with the Scandinavian furniture tradition – simple and restrained – but with an American nudge towards comfort and convenience, where you’re able to sit in different positions and directions. So, it’s very versatile in its use – it can be used both as an armchair or be part of a wider arrangement of chairs/seating and tables. Its versatility has made it very useful for a lot of different contexts – from people’s homes to more commercial spaces.”

Does the use of the VIA57™ chairs match the intention behind them?

“It’s a very generous chair. Its comfort and versatility lie in its shape; the open seat makes the user experience the chair in different positions. The chairs can be enjoyed solo or reconfigured in multiple seating arrangements for intimate conversations in different directions. Over the years, we have seen it applied in many different settings showing the success as the comfortable, versatile furniture we aspired to make for VIA57.”