The new Republic of Fritz Hansen Milan showroom resonated with the fresh energy of the new during Salone del Mobile. The brand’s new light-filled space beside a third-century church at Piazza San Simpliciano was transformed into an atelier where a new line of home accessories was displayed.
Objects is a collection of twelve objects designed by Danish and international designers, among them the design duo Studio Roso, Wednesday Architecture and Jaime Hayon.
Narelle Yabuka caught the launch of Objects at the showroom and found out more from Christoffer Back, Fritz Hansen’s Vice President (Accessories).
NARELLE YABUKA: How did the concept for Objects come about, and what ties all of the objects together?
CHRISTOFFER BACK: We wanted to have things that made sense in the Fritz Hansen universe – things on and around the sofa table, and things on and around the dining table, for example. There are twelve products in the collection, and all of them have a link back to Fritz Hansen – in the design, the use of material, something in our heritage, or the quality level.
YABUKA: Why the move into accessories?
BACK: There are two main reasons. [One] reason is that we want to make sure that more people who love design around the world get access to Fritz Hansen. The other thing that’s important is that today nobody lives only with furniture; you also have home accessories to create that special homely feeling that makes the place your own. Therefore it makes perfectly good sense to have a series of room accessory products.
YABUKA: How did you select the designers and the designs?
BACK: Several of the products – the candleholders, some of the vases – were designed by Jaime Hayon. He’s been designing a lot of furniture for us, so it came as a natural thing to ask him whether he would participate in a project like this. Some of the other designers are from the heritage of the company. The pillow is made with fabric designed by Arne Jacobsen. The tray table is from 1958, designed by two cabinetmakers who worked at Fritz Hansen. The trays were designed by two Danish architects [Wednesday Architecture]. We selected them because their approach to design was very Fritz Hansen-like. The mirror was also designed by two Danish designers [Studio Roso], who are located in London. Here it was the fact that this piece cannot be duplicated. All of the mirrors are unique because of the process used to make them. And that’s also very much Fritz Hansen.
YABUKA: There are some unexpected pieces like the ikebana vase.
BACK: Yes, Jaime came up with that idea. The story behind it is amazing. Ikebana emphasises the aesthetic of the stem as much as the top of the flower. A celebration of something simple can look very aesthetic. That’s the same approach we have to our furniture. All of our designers throughout time have focused on hitting the exact balance between functionality and aesthetics.
YABUKA: How are the mirrors produced? You mentioned each one was unique.
BACK: That’s a new technique. Technically it’s not a mirror; it’s a polished steel plate. It’s given an industrial rust-protection treatment that creates a very beautiful surface. This is something you cannot do twice in the same way. It’s fully functional as a mirror; it just has much more dignity.
YABUKA: Were there any new techniques involved in the production of the Objects line that Fritz Hansen didn’t already use?
BACK: Yes. The Arne Jacobsen pillow is a very good example. This is a knitted fabric, not woven. We chose to make a knitted fabric because we wanted to make sure the pattern was present but not too dominating. So by knitting it, we could create this three-dimensional pattern effect. There are many production techniques that are very much known to us – for example, pressure-moulded veneer for the trays and the tray table. But we hadn’t worked with glass before, and all the vases are hand-blown glass. It’s an ancient technique, but it’s new to Fritz Hansen.
YABUKA: How did you decide what sort of objects to have in the collection? What made you decide that people might want an ikebana vase, for example?
BACK: We looked into what Fritz Hansen’s position is in our customers’ homes, and we are mostly in the living room and dining room. And based on that we looked at what home accessories would fit into that universe. Jaime said, “On my dining table, when we’re not eating but the kids are sitting there doing their homework and I’m drawing and working, or we’re just sitting having a chat with the family, it would be beautiful to have a simple object that can pull in the company that’s sitting around the table.” When he presented the ikebana vase, we just knew it made perfect sense. Where Fritz Hansen is present, there should be products as well – sofa pillows, throws, a sofa table, candleholders, vases, trays, the side table you place next to your chair in the living room.
YABUKA: What can we expect to see next for the accessories line?
BACK: You’ll be able to see both an extension of current products with new materials, new colours, and probably also new sizes. But we’ll also introduce products with more Danish designers, and especially products that are developed in genuine materials. If I could dream of anything, it would be a series of stoneware products. I think stone is a beautiful material that would perfectly match the rest of the products.
The Fritz Hansen Objects collection will be available at Mobilia.