A Craft Above The Rest

Interview by Stephanie Peh
Photographs courtesy of HAY

During the 50s and 60s, Danish furniture design was at its peak with designers employing mass manufacturing techniques in their creation of form and function, yet maintaining overall standards of craftsmanship. HAY was launched in an effort to restore Danish furniture design to its former glory, with a contemporary spin to suit modern lifestyles. Throughout the past 10 years, HAY has not only been successful in creating good quality products but they have also taken it a step further, tagging their masterpieces with a friendly price tag, keeping them accessible so more people can enjoy their creations.

At the heart of HAY’s processes, the brand takes pride in being experimental with cutting-edge production techniques and ideas. The owners are not afraid to push the boundaries of manufacturing, if it means making the world a better place to live in. They believe in constantly challenging and promoting the originality of both young and established designers who are ambitious and hungry to make a difference. HAY is positive that small steps as such will ultimately contribute to improving overall efficiency and quality of life.

As the interest in design and appreciation for quality rises amongst Singaporeans, we chat with founder Rolf Hay to find out what it means to truly understand the everyday needs of a modern being.

Rolf Hay

Hi Rolf, for a start, could you please share with us what you were working on before you created HAY?

I have been in the furniture business since 1992 when I started working for a Danish furniture agent selling Danish furniture in Germany. I was clueless when it came to Danish design but soon discovered that it was something that I wanted to do. When I came back to Denmark, I worked for furniture companies Paustian and Gubi, where I met my wife and partner Mette. I also met our partner Troels Holch Povisen, who is the founder of the Bestseller Clothing Group. We found out that we shared a passion for design and decided to start the company HAY together.

And the rest is history. Please tell us more about your role at HAY.

I am the creative manager of HAY furniture and my wife Mette has the same role—just for HAY accessories. We design products, select products from other designers and are highly involved in product development.

Your vision is to restore Danish furniture design to its former glory with a contemporary twist. Could you share with us what defined Danish design then, and how it has evolved since?

The designers of the 50s and 60s sought to explore the technological opportunities of the era, and industrial mass production made it possible for people with lower incomes to buy good design. We try to do the same thing—to provide a more accessible approach to design and create design for regular people. We want people to buy things that they can keep, treasure for many years and will not throw away.

Read more in The U Press N˚3 (Singapore edition).