The Enduring Legacy of Fritz Hansen – Denmark’s Leading Furniture Brand
Fritz Hansen Egg Chair™ production 1963. Image courtesy of Republic of Fritz Hansen™
Hankering for a dash of Danish design to add to your interiors? Fritz Hansen is one of the most desirable names to look out for in the pre-owned market.
The Danish company, now known as Republic of Fritz Hansen™, is famed for its exceptional quality of design and manufacture and continues to produce mid-century Danish design classics under license by Arne Jacobsen, Bruno Mathsson, Hans J. Wegner, Piet Hein and Poul Kjaerholm as well as introducing the work of contemporary designers such as Jaime Hayon, GamFratesi and Piero Lissoni.
Fritz Hansen production (left) and Series 7™ Production (right) Image courtesy Republic of Fritz Hansen™
The story of Fritz Hansen, the company, began in Copenhagen in 1872 with Fritz Hansen, the man. The enterprising cabinetmaker started a furniture production company and soon established a flourishing workshop. With an emphasis on high quality that remains a credo for the company today, Fritz and his son Christian were soon receiving prestigious orders, including all the furnishings for Copenhagen City Hall and the Supreme Court.
Early in the 20th century, Christian Hansen began to experiment with steam-bending beech, creating the lighter feel and purer lines of wood laminate furniture that became the breakthrough style in Scandinavian design. In the 1930s, Fritz Hansen launched the first Danish steel furniture and the famed Church Chair™
Fritz Hansen Church Chair™ at Bech-Bruun in Aarhus, Denmark, Image courtesy of Republic of Fritz Hansen™
During the 1940s, Denmark’s walnut trees were decimated by a series of icy winters and the company had the foresight to buy up the timber. The star of the company’s resultant walnut collection is undoubtedly the China Chair™ designed by architect Hans J. Wegner – a sculptural celebration of wood and an example of the finest craft of furniture making.
Ant Chair™ Image courtesy of Republic of Fritz Hansen™
Architect Arne Jacobsen had been collaborating with Fritz Hansen since 1934, when, in the 1950s he created the breakthrough laminated Ant Chair™, which later lead to the astonishing success of the Series 7™ and other pressure-molded veneer chairs. Between them, these two designs remain among the most successful commercial seating designs ever produced.
Arne Jacobsen suite 606 at the once Royal Hotel in Copenhagen. Image courtesy of Radisson Blu Hotel
In the early 1960s, Jacobsen was commissioned to design the Royal Hotel in Copenhagen and insisted on designing every detail from textiles and sculptural furnishings such as his Swan™ and Egg™ chairs, manufactured by Fritz Hansen, to light fittings, ashtrays, and cutlery. The hotel, now named the Radisson Blu Royal Copenhagen, has since been refurbished but one guest room, Room 606, remains in original condition exactly as designed by Jacobsen. If you’re ever in Copenhagen, you can even book in and stay there.
Swan Chair™ (left) and Egg Chair™ (right)
Jaime Hayon Junior Suite at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Copenhagen (left) Image courtesy of Radisson Blu Hotel
Leading the Fritz Hansen design pack in the 1970s was the enfant terrible of Danish Design, Verner Panton, who had previously worked as an associate in Arne Jacobsen’s architectural practice. Panton’s innovative, bold and playful seating designs such as the Bachelor chairs for Fritz Hansen, utilized state-of-the-art technology and reflected his optimistic belief in the future.
PK22™ (left) and PK 20™ (right) Fritz Hansen Chairs
In the 1980s, Fritz Hansen purchased the Kjaerholm Collection by Poul Kjaerholm, designed between 1951 and 1980. The collection included Kjaerholm’s PK Series of chairs and sofas, with standout pieces such as PK31™, PK20™, and PK22™.
PK31™ Sofa by Fritz Hansen