Innovativeness, bold design and high quality at a reasonable price, that’s what his company is all about.
Some say Danish product design hasn’t moved on from its mid-century heyday, but the people behind the design company Hay, are determined to set things right. Their mission is to return to the innovative greatness of the fifties and the sixties, but in a contemporary context. In concreto this means a range of highly covetable furniture, accessories and textiles, both from Hay's own line and other designers.
After Copenhague, Münich, Oslo and Amsterdam, the Danish label chose to set foot in Antwerp. The man himself and co-founder Rolf Hay welcomed us in his very stylish industrial loft/ pilot store in Antwerp with the following words: “I know who you are. I’m a follower of your blog coffeeklatch. With this internet driven world, it’s difficult not to.” It's always nice to receive compliments from people you admire. We had a chat with the man who put Hay on the global map.
I consider Antwerp as one of the design headquarters in Europe. The fashion industry here is strong and in many ways Antwerp has a similar energy to Berlin. It's a young city and it's a place where people have a strong interest in design.
We're always looking for good ideas. We have a little group of designers we work with on a daily basis, who we have a constant dialogue with. But it's also extremely important to be open-minded and receptive to other creatives. It's about what people do, not about who they are. Recently we launched a new design venture with Sebasting Wrong, called Wrong for Hay. The new label shows work of different designers. Some of them never even worked in the design industry before. I think it's good to have balance.
We have been trying to work within a context in which it's important for us to be reachable and democratic. Before I started Hay with my wife and my business partner, I was working for a company in Danmark that sold Cappelini, a furniture and design company from Italy. I discovered that the people who were capable of understanding the product and the universe of Cappelini, were the ones who couldn't afford it. And those who could, didn't understand. This concept was a starting point for us. We wanted to create products on a high quality level at a reasonable price. It's very wrong to say Hay is an inexpensive brand because a sofa costs 2.500 euros. I mean, that's still a lot of money. Some rather spend it on a fantastic holiday. But if design is a priority for you, then it's an affordable price.
We sell a lot of everything and it's wrong to say that one product is the cash cow of the company. The tea towels by Scholten & Bajings sell like cookies. They're very affordable and we have been extending the accessory collection a lot lately. If you want to have a mono brand store, it's important to have a lot of items. There's something for everyone, and that fits into our philosophy. We have a very democratic approach. Design is not just for the elite, it's for everyone.
What they do, can be compared to offering: putting energy into transforming materials to create an object that will be destroyed.