Q: We hear you have a hotel design on the horizon...
Rolf: How did you hear that?...
Yeah, it is a fantastic challenge. We were asked by a Danish hotel chain to do a hotel in the second biggest city in Denmark. It will be ready in July 2014. It’s everything from furniture to textiles to cushions...
When we accepted we were thrilled but it has been a big challenge because we’re not just supplying products, our name is on the hotel in a way. And it’s very much a collaboration between two companies. It’s very specific - down to what we need for the room.
A challenge has been to make the hotel cozy. Honestly, I’ve never been to a chic design hotel where I felt at home. I saw the new Ace Hotel in Shoreditch [London], it’s quite nice. It has something. It’s not easy to get this. For Scandinavian furniture it’s difficult to be cozy - like a razorblade, the simplicity can also be killing in a room. That’s also why textiles and carpets from Marrakesh and India have been so important to us.
Q: You have done so many collaborations with some of today's most talented designers, was this always part of the plan for HAY? Who are you currently excited to be working with?
Originally, the designs were ours and in collaboration with external designers - mostly Danish. We never had a plan to work exclusively with Scandinavian people but if we had called the Bouroullecs [Erwan and Ronan] 10 years ago and asked them to collaborate, they might have said no.
It’s a matter of how you grow and how you manage things. We have always wanted to work with designers all over the world, and now we are. We're working with Stefan Diez from Germany, Big Game from Belgium, Lucien Gumy from Switzerland, Inga Sempé from France, Lex Pott from the Netherlands, Clara von Zweigbergk and Shane Schenck from Sweden and Doshi Levien from London, to name a few.
Mette: We are also still working with Scholten & Baijings. When I first saw their work, it was all made by Dutch suppliers and it was so expensive. So, about 4 years ago, I approached them to do something at a lower price. The first products were the bed linen, the tea towels and the two types of rugs we have with them.
A few of the textiles that HAY and Scholten & Baijings have produced in collaboration.
I really love doing things with people who continue to surprise me. Sometimes, when I give Carole and Stefan [of Scholten & Baijings] a new approach and I have something in mind, they’ll bring it back tweaked just a little bit more than I expected. It’s so nice to be overwhelmed with something new.
I’m also working with All The Way to Paris, a graphic design agency with an office near us. They just designed a new series of patchwork quilts that we’re going to do with them. I love meeting with them and the chemistry is nice.
Some of All the Way to Paris’ work for HAY.
Rolf has also been working with Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec. We collaborated on a chair design for the University of Copenhagen with them and are pleased because it came out so well.
The "Copenhague" chair with the Bouroullecs.
Rolf: We work with the Bouroullecs because they are extremely good at what they do. For us, we consider them to be the most important designers of our time. They are still young but perhaps in 10 or 15 years, they will be on a level with Ray & Charles Eames.
Don’t overestimate the importance of having a famous name attached to a product, though. If it’s a bad product, made by a famous designer, it will not sell. A lot of our customers just buy what they like.
It was and is very important to us that it’s not so much about who you are but about what you do.
Q: Tell us about WRONG for HAY, how are the two brands different?
Sebastian Wrong has a new range of products called WRONG for HAY. This photo is from the recent presentation during London Design Festival.
Mette: We met Sebastian Wrong and really liked him. He’s a nice person and has a great eye for finding designers. So we started talking about doing a series of lights, but our conversation led into a collection of a whole series of things.
Rolf: So now we have two brands. Some thought we’d do a high-end collection together because of all the incredible work he’s done with Established & Sons. It’s not that, because what Sebastian finds so interesting about us is our values - making design accessible.
Mette: Personally, I think there are products that could have been HAY products and there are products that could not have been HAY.
Q: Do you see yourselves as curators?
Rolf: Yeah...that’s nice.