The history of Fritz Hansen is characterised by remarkable craftsmanship, unique design and premium quality. Leading architects and furniture designers across the world have shaped our collection with beautifully crafted, functional designs that are both timeless and timely. Harnessing the beauty of each material used, pieces feature carefully considered details, expert craftsmanship and high-end materials. As long and rich as our history of crafting iconic design, collaborators include notables such as Arne Jacobsen, Poul Kjærholm, Jaime Hayon, Piero Lissoni, Kasper Salto and Cecilie Manz.
''Good design should be problem-solving and long-lasting; this goes without saying. But I also make designs for people, to be used by people. I believe that good design should provoke feelings. Design should make you feel comfortable. And design should generate happiness.''
In the post-war era, Fritz Hansen shaped the Danish design tradition in collaboration with influential designers.
Beginning in 1945 and throughout the following two decades, Danish design went from essentially unknown to world famous. After the horrors of war, people had begun to associate industrial, machine-made production processes with the development of killing machines and craved a more romantic approach to design.
In the 1920s and 30s, it was quite the opposite. Danish designers struggled to compete. Their counterparts in Germany and the Netherlands had been quick to embrace industrial production, and their mass-produced designs gained widespread success.
Meanwhile Denmark was late to industrialise, preferring the traditional handicrafts. But in time this proved an advantage: Danish design with its use of natural materials, attention to detail and focus on craftsmanship turned out to be the perfect match for the tastes of the post-war era.
Danish furniture became extremely popular in the US during the post-war housing boom and developed into a major international brand in the following decades. Most important to the spread of Danish Modern was the Design in Scandinavia exhibition, which showed all over the US and Canada from 1954 to 1957. It played a key role in the success of Børge Mogensen’s Spoke-Back sofa and Peter Hvidt and Orla Mølgaard Nielsen’s AX chair – both produced by Fritz Hansen.
And Fritz Hansen played a pivotal role in the Danish design breakthrough, working with the most influential designers of the day, including Hans J. Wegner, Børge Mogensen, Peter Hvidt & Orla Mølgaard-Nielsen, Ole Wanscher, Magnus Stephensen, Arne Jacobsen, Edvard Thomsen, Kai Gottlob, and Verner Panton. It was a veritable melting pot, and the designs that resulted from these collaborations still stand today.
The 1930s marked an era of great innovation for Fritz Hansen. In the early years of the new decade, Christian E. Hansen’s two eldest sons took over the company’s reins, bringing with them an impressive string of credentials and international experience.
As the hardship of the First World War faded, the brothers began to look beyond Denmark’s borders for fresh inspiration and talent. They experimented with production methods, and made ground-breaking advancements within steam-bent and laminated wood, as well as steel. These innovations would then go on to pave the way to some of Fritz Hansen’s most revolutionary collaborations with Danish and international designers, such as Frits Schlegel, Kaare Klint and Flemming & Mogens Lassen.
This period in design history is particularly well-known for the Bauhaus movement founded by architect Walter Gropius in Weimar, Germany in 1919. Bauhaus would go on to influence the modern architecture development far beyond Germany’s borders. The concept behind Bauhaus was a radical new approach to design thinking: “form follows function” – a theory that put function on an equal footing with design.
Deeply influenced by the aesthetics and principles of the Bauhaus, Fritz Hansen's collaboration with foreign designers and architects produced beautiful and timely pieces to great commercial success that reflected the popular Bauhaus style of the time. One notable collaboration with Mart Stam (the architect widely credited as the inventor of the cantilever chair form) produced a chair featuring a solid wood frame, steel and rattan for Fritz Hansen.
Futuristic, colourful, and fun: Danish designer Verner Panton’s work is well-known today for its unique style. Fritz Hansen proved to be a similar kind of visionary, as one of the first to recognise Panton’s designs as both innovative and commercial. The company began working with him as early as 1956.
In the early 1950s, Panton assisted Arne Jacobsen and was instrumental in the design of the ultra-successful Ant Chair. In 1955, Panton was commissioned by Fritz Hansen to create two chairs: The Bachelor and The Tivoli. It was the start, as they say, of a beautiful friendship.
Panton’s Bachelor chair could be taken apart, making it easy to transport. It came with or without armrests, and with optional cushions. In addition, he created the (un-officially named) Tivoli Chair, a discrete and stackable multi-use chair. Both the Bachelor Chair and Tivoli Chair were popular with the younger generation; we’ll take that to mean the collaboration was on the right track.
It was in the 1970s that the collaboration with Fritz Hansen came of-age. During this time, Panton introduced the Pantonova Series of sculptural chairs in different heights, as well as a chaise lounge and a table. These chairs weren’t successful, but Fritz Hansen wasn’t going to let that slow them down.
In 1974, Panton proved Fritz Hansen’s ongoing belief in his work correct with his System 1-2-3. The series, three years in the making, is made up of innovative, curvy chairs designed to meet every sitting need you could possibly imagine, and probably a few more, too.
Moving into the 1980s, the Wire Cone chair of that period exemplifies the strength of Fritz Hansen and Panton’s partnership. At first, it was hard to make and, to be honest, even harder to sit on. In 1988, Fritz Hansen was able to reduce the cost of production considerably. From then on, the chair was constructed from one piece that was then welded to the crossing metal pieces. Great design met its match with great production, and the result was a much more comfortable and easy-to-produce chair.
Verner Panton’s history with Fritz Hansen had its peaks and valleys, but Fritz Hansen’s ability to think long-term and believe in innovative design led to a long and fruitful collaboration. The partnership produced some of the most exciting furniture of the 1970s, including items still considered design icons today.