In advance of the RESIDE pop-up event in Fumbally Exchange this Thursday May 4, we caught up with Danish design legend Christian Andresen to discuss taking over the helm at Fritz Hansen, plus classic and contemporary furniture design.
You’ve been at the Republic of Fritz Hansen for two years now, how was your transition into the company?
It’s been smooth, challenging and fun. Smooth, meaning that it’s a very small company — 200 people — and it’s a well oiled machine. Challenging, because we are a company in growth and we have an ambitious plan, which means that there’s not much resting on our laurels. There’s also the fun part; there was no manual.
In more recent years, Fritz Hansen has been working with more international designers. Why is this?
We are a Danish company, but we still operate in a global world. Furniture trends are different all around the world, and if we want to grow, we should embrace and adapt to other countries’ needs. We’ve challenged ourselves with new designers and there has been a slight change in our design DNA, meaning that we want to be more open and curious.
A dark red Series 7 version of the Arne Jacobsen chair
Why do you think it is difficult to design a successful sofa?
The sofa is the monster sitting in your living room. It’s a complicated piece, the largest piece in your home, and the piece that you need to live with and love. It is also a long term investment — there’s a lot of back and forth in terms of functionality, the colour, and “oh no the kids will smear chocolate all over it”. It’s a piece of furniture that you have both a rational and emotional buying discussion about.
Of all the Fritz Hansen’s pieces, have you any particular favourites?
I’m into the sculptural and of functional mix of Arne Jacobsen. For example, the Swan Chair flexes at the back and it’s a simple construction. It’s a functional piece that you sit quite well in, where form follows function.
Arne Jacobsen’s ‘Swan Chair’
A Scandinavian aesthetic has become almost ubiquitous in recent years. Did you see that coming? Why do you think it has such global appeal?
I think that it’s a well executed PR strategy! At first we thought the Nordic design trend was a bubble, but it’s still going strong and you see it everywhere. I think it’s because of Scandinavian simplicity and closeness to nature, as well as our craftsmanship in working with the materials we have to hand. There’s a whole quality thing in Scandinavia; it doesn’t matter if it’s Bang Olufsen stereos, furniture or food — it’s kind of a non-bullshit thing. We don’t do guns and rockets, we do furniture and food and lego blocks. It’s all positives.
What do you see for the future of furniture design?
I’m curious to see where markets move now, because we’re on the verge of being over-confident again. There’s a lot of use and throw, especially in markets where there’s a newfound wealth. I think there’s an interesting trend in not owning your furniture, but just owning it for a while. The whole ‘share economy’ is interesting; driving together, living together. It’s about having pieces that you need right now, and maybe in 5 years instead of buying a new piece, you just swap it with someone else. Where does that take the furniture industry in the future?
Fritz Hansen will be participating in the RESIDE pop-up event here in Dublin in. Are you familiar with Ireland at all?
I’ve never been to Dublin, but I’ve heard a little bit about how Irish markets are evolving, and the newfound enthusiasm after years of ups and downs. Now it’s kind of levelled out, and that has probably spawned a desire to be curious about things. The similarity between Ireland and Denmark is that there’s a respect for nature and an environmental movement right now, as well as a movement in equality and craftsmanship.
While you’re in Dublin what do you hope to do?
Sadly I only have two days — I would have loved to be able to stay a little bit longer. I’ll try to find the corner where Dublin shows itself as a city without being a tourist attraction. I’ve booked a hotel straight in the middle of town so I’ll do my walkabouts, as I always do, and try to be inspired!
RESIDE, created by the interior solutions providers Walls To Workstations, will launch its pop-up interiors shop at Fumbally Exchange from Thursday May 4 until Saturday May 6, 2017. Alongside Fritz Hansen, brands including Knoll Studio, Moroso and B&B Italia will feature.