The history of Fritz Hansen begins in 1872, where the enterprising cabinet maker Fritz Hansen obtains a trade license in Copenhagen. 1885 is a decisive year for the Nakskov native and he opens a furniture production company in his own name. Just two years later, his workshop in Christianshavn is thriving. From here, Fritz and his son Christian create high-quality furniture that will continue to define Fritz Hansen in the future.
The first fifty years of the company are defined by a long list of prestigious contracts that include producing furniture for the Danish Parliament and Supreme Court at Christiansburg Palace, the University Library, Copenhagen City Hall and other significant institutions.
At the turn of the century, Fritz’s forward-thinking son, Christian, begins to experiment with steam-bending techniques. During this decade, the technique is refined to make Fritz Hansen a world leader in moulded and laminate wood furniture.
Looking to German Functionalism, Scandinavian design comes into its own with a lighter, more practical approach that profiles clean lines and function. Fritz Hansen launches the very first Danish steel furniture as well as the iconic Church chair by Kaare Klint, which remains in the Fritz Hansen collection until 2004.
Despite the hardships brought by the Second World War, Fritz Hansen expands its factory. A bitter winter causes many of Denmark’s walnut trees to die back, but the industrious Fritz Hansen stockpiles wood and introduces a new furniture series in the beautiful material. It is lauded by the press and becomes an instant success.
In 1944, architect and designer Hans. J. Wegner creates his first icon for Fritz Hansen. The China Chair™ is a sculptural celebration of wood and the finest craftsmanship. A year later, Børge Mogensen creates the Spoke-back sofa. Ahead of its time, it is first put into production years later, re-introduced as the most Danish of all sofas.
Arne Jacobsen dominates the scene at Fritz Hansen. Despite a collaboration spanning almost two decades, Jacobsen’s breakthrough comes with the introduction of the Ant™ chair – a predecessor to his phenomenally successful Series 7™ chair.
Jacobsen drew inspiration for the design from Hvidt & Mølgaard’s pressure moulded AX chair and the introduction of the wood veneer technique marks a new milestone in the brand’s history. Jacobsen goes on to create the iconic Egg™ and Swan™ chairs for the SAS Royal Hotel in Copenhagen, as well as the sleek and architectural Series 3300™ lounge chair for its SAS Terminal. In 1955, Verner Panton creates the Bachelor chair in bent steel.
In 1963, Fritz Hansen’s production facilities in Allerød, north of Copenhagen, are expanded with three factory halls. In 1965, administration moves from Christianshavn to the newly renovated buildings in Allerød, which also house a showroom.
A collaboration between Bruno Mathsson and Piet Hein, the democratic Superellipse™ table with no distinct ends becomes one of Fritz Hansen’s greatest successes. Equally successful is the re-introduction of Børge Mogensen’s Spoke-back sofa and Hans Wegner’s China Chair™. Arne Jacobsen’s designs also dominate this period.
This decade brings great changes at Fritz Hansen. On the first working day of 1979, Fritz Hansen announces that the 107-year-old company will no longer remain in the hands of the family and sells 75% of its shares to Skandinavisk Holding.
Verner Panton, the enfant terrible of Danish design, leads the avant-garde movement, provoking and inspiring in the service of Fritz Hansen. His prominent role results in flattering remarks from the press. Fritz Hansen guides interest back to Arne Jacobsen and classic designs and the effort pays dividends a few years later.
Through substantial investments and comprehensive reforms, Skandinavisk Holding succeeds in strengthening and future-proofing Fritz Hansen. During the 1983 furniture expo at Copenhagen’s trade fair and convention centre, Bella Center, an exhibition consisting solely of new Fritz Hansen designs becomes a convincing manifestation of the brand’s position as Denmark’s leading furniture manufacturer.
Fritz Hansen acquires the rights to the Kjærholm Collection of furniture, designed by Poul Kjærholm between 1951 and 1980. The acquisition of the Kevi collection and Munch Møbler results in increased sales and renewed interest in Fritz Hansen.
Expansion is a keyword in the Nineties. Here, Fritz Hansen focuses primarily on five areas: the dining room, the conference room, resting/waiting areas, office spaces and the private home. In 1998, Jacob Holm becomes CEO, charged with transforming Fritz Hansen from a production company to a global brand with firm focus on the end-consumer.
In 1999, a ground-breaking new factory in Vassingerød is inaugurated, increasing production capacity dramatically. A showroom and museum displaying the brand’s long and rich legacy open to visitors.
The introduction of Republic of Fritz Hansen™ in 2000 marks a strategic change for the brand, conveying the importance of furniture as an expression of individuality in professional and private settings. The 00s also see new designers invited to the fold to interpret Fritz Hansen’s design philosophy through a contemporary lens. The Ice™ series and Little Friend™ by Kasper Salto introduce new materials and multifunctional designs to the collection, while Piero Lissoni and Cecilie Manz produce inviting designs that attract new end-consumers.
Simultaneously, the decade focuses on ensuring classic designs remain relevant, revitalising existing pieces such as Arne Jacobsen’s Oxford™ chair to modern sensibilities.
Fritz Hansen’s looks to both the contract and retail market, showcasing furniture for use in private as well as public spaces. In 2011, Fritz Hansen enters a collaboration with the acclaimed Spanish designer, Jaime Hayon. The result is beautiful, comfortable and sculptural furniture and elegant and functional accessories.
Under the moniker 60 Years in Perfect Shape, 2015 marks the 60th anniversary of Arne Jacobsen’s iconic Series 7™ chair. Fritz Hansen acquires the Danish lighting company Lightyears. In 2016, the brand introduces Objects, a collection of accessories. Under the tagline ‘Complementing your life,’ Objects invites new customers inside with beautiful yet more affordable items.