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While at present, Fritz Hansen is known all over the world for its wide range of furniture, lighting, and accessories intended to enhance well-being while preserving aesthetics and function, the global design company had humble beginnings.
The history of Fritz Hansen began in 1872 when Danish cabinetmaker Fritz Hansen obtained a trade license in Copenhagen. Years later, in 1885, the Nakskov native opened a furniture production company. His son Christian joined him to create high-quality furniture items that continue to define Fritz Hansen today.
In the 1930s, Christian Hansen began to experiment with steam-bending techniques, making Fritz Hansen a leader in molded and laminate wood furniture. Essentially, Fritz Hansen founded Danish design by taking a lighter, more practical approach with clean lines and high functionality. In this same decade, Fritz Hansen launched the first Danish steel furniture as well as Kaare Klint's iconic Church Chair.
During World War II, Fritz Hansen expanded its factory. Though a rough winter caused a shortage in the supply of walnut wood, Fritz Hansen cleverly stockpiled it to introduce a new furniture series in walnut, which instantly became a success.
Designer Collaborations Led To More Success
Around the same time, Fritz Hansen collaborated with architect and designer Hans J. Wegner to create the China Chair, a sculptural celebration of wood and the finest craftsmanship. Fritz Hansen also collaborated with Børge Mogensen on the Spoke-back sofa, a piece far ahead of its time and considered "the most Danish" of all sofas.
Arne Jacobsen Collaboration
In the 1950s, Fritz Hansen began a two-decade-long collaboration with Arne Jacobsen, one of the most renowned Danish architects, on a multitude of iconic designs including the Ant Chair and the Series 7 Chair. Arne Jacobsen's Egg and Swan Chairs were manufactured by Fritz Hansen and created for the SAS Royal Hotel in Copenhagen, as well as the Series 3300 Lounge Chair for the SAS Terminal.
SAS, which stands for Scandinavian Airlines Systems, worked with Arne Jacobsen as part of their mission to create "the world's first design hotel." The 22-story SAS Royal Hotel in central Copenhagen, now called the Radisson Blu Royal Hotel, is considered one of Arne Jacobsen's greatest masterpieces. He designed all of it, with all of the furniture produced by Fritz Hansen.
More Designer Collaborations
In the 1960s, Fritz Hansen continues to collaborate with renowned Danish architects while also expanding their production facilities. The Superellipse Table––a table with no distinct ends––became one of Fritz Hansen's most popular designs out of a collaboration between Bruno Mathsson and Piet Hein. Around the same time, Fritz Hansen reintroduced Børge Mogensen’s Spoke-back sofa and Hans Wegner’s China Chair. Arne Jacobsen’s designs continued to dominate this period, a historical time for modern Danish design.
In 1979, Fritz Hansen sold 75% of its shares to Skandinavisk Holding in an attempt to future-proof the brand, which ended up being a successful move. Around this time, Verner Panton led the avant-garde movement of Danish design while collaborating with Fritz Hansen, leading to great success. Despite this new design movement, Fritz Hansen continues to guide interest back to Arne Jacobsen's Egg Chair and other timeless designs.
Introducing New Designs While Preserving & Honoring The Classics
Fritz Hansen's ever-expanding collection grew throughout the 1980s, creating elegant new designs and reintroducing classic designs. Fritz Hansen acquired the rights to Poul Kjærholm's collection designed between 1951 and 1980, as well as the Kevi collection and Munch Møbler series.
In the 1990s, Fritz Hansen's work was focused on five different areas: the dining room, the conference room, resting/waiting areas, office spaces, and the private home.
Jacob Holm became CEO in 1998, helping Fritz Hansen become a global design brand with an international presence focused on the end consumer. Under Holm's leadership, a new factory was opened to increase production capacity. Fritz Hansen opened up a showroom and museum to give the public a chance to see iconic pieces in person and also learn about Fritz Hansen's long history.
A New Millenium Brings New Changes
Fritz Hansen's work in the 2000s was centered around interpreting Fritz Hansen's design philosophy through a contemporary lens. This era brought the Ice Series and Little Friend by Kasper Salto, which utilized new materials and functional designs. Collaborations with Piero Lissoni and Cecile Manz resulted in iconic pieces that attracted new customers to Fritz Hansen. At the same time, Fritz Hansen continued to ensure that classic designs, like the Egg Chair by Arne Jacobsen, remained relevant. Arne Jacobsen's Oxford Chair, a timeless design, was revitalized to suit modern needs.
Jaime Hayon Collaboration
Later, in 2011, Fritz Hansen initiated a collaboration with acclaimed Spanish designer Jaime Hayon to bring beautiful, comfortable, and sculptural new furniture as well as elegant and functional accessory designs.
Expanding The Brand Portfolio
Fritz Hansen's ever-expanding collection continues to have an international presence, all driven by the desire for good craftsmanship and to fill an entire room with furniture and accessories that make spaces beautiful just by their presence. Recently, Fritz Hansen acquired the Danish design brand Skagerak, which includes over 200 products consisting of both outdoor and indoor furniture and accessories.
We love how each piece of Fritz Hansen furniture––and every other Fritz Hansen design––unites function and form!
Our Favorite Fritz Hansen Furniture, Lighting, and Accessories
With countless collaborations with visionary designers over the years, including Jaime Hayon, Poul Kjærholm, Arne Jacobsen, Christian Dell, Cecile Manz, Kasper Salto, and more, there are so many iconic designs worth celebrating. Here are just a few of our favorites: