Known for producing furniture, textiles and decorative accessories with clean graphic forms and a fresh approach to colour, Hay is a brand inspired by its Danish roots. Following the launch of a vastly expanded accessories collection for 2012 at Paris homeware and lifestyle show Maison & Objet, our content partner Stylus.com catches up with founders and designers Rolf and Mette Hay.
Established in 2002, Hay officially launched as a furniture brand at Imm Cologne furniture fair in 2003. Now in its 10th year, the brand has an impressive portfolio of popular designs and collaborations with the likes of Dutch studio Scholten & Baijings.
With a brand ambition to match the design and quality of mid-century iconic Danish design, Hay attributes its success to its focus on quality, design longevity, and value for money. 'We launched 10-12 products including Round One, Other One and JW01, and they are still sold in our collection today,' explains Rolf, who overseas furniture design and manufacture. 'I think the key to our success is that we have succeeded in maintaining our interest and passion for good design.'
A Collaborative Success
While a passion for good design is essential, the partnership’s success can also be credited to some shrewd designer collaborations and a keen eye for emerging talent. January 2011 saw the launch of a collaboration with Dutch design studio Scholten & Baijings. Minimal is a collection of soft furnishings, bed linen, tea towels and rugs featuring the design duo's signature graphic approach and bright washed-out fluoros.
With an aesthetic that aligns nicely with the Hay design ethos, Mette explains: 'It all started when Rolf and I were on holiday and I had been going on and on how much I wanted to work with Scholten & Baijings. Whilst I was in the pool, Rolf had rung them and left a message.' An intuitive decision saw the collaboration emerge with an open brief. Scholten & Baijings produced a range of proposals from which Rolf and Mette picked four.
'We are very proud of the collection. Scholten & Baijings have continuously proved that they are in a league of their own when it comes to colour and pattern,' says Mette. 'By mixing soft pastels, bright fluorescent colours and graphic prints, they have created an exceptional trademark with a unique contemporary identity and wide appeal. In making Scholten & Baijings products available at the same accessible price range as other Hay products, the collection sells well.'
A more recent collaboration for 2012 saw Hay team up with Stockholm-based graphic and product designer Clara Von Zweigbergk
. Launching as part of the expanded accessories range for Hay in 2012, Von Zweigbergk has created Kaleido, a series of tessellating steel trays in fresh pastels and semi-saturated hues.
On talking about her choice of colour, Von Zweigbergk explains: 'Most colours in my work appear very early in the process, including Kaleido. I often insist on my first instinct, although I love so many colours I am not really able to explain why. For me, choosing colours is mostly a very joyful part of the work.' This playful attitude is reflected in the final product, which can be mixed and matched to create combined colour palettes.
Another well-matched collaboration, this instinctive approach is also shared by Rolf and Mette Hay. 'Our design process is very emotional. The way we work in our design department is with intuition and gut feeling,' says Mette. 'Luckily, the whole collection blends in well.'
Cultivating the Brand
A standout highlight at Maison & Objet
in January, Hay launched a noticeably expanded accessories range. In an effort to meet consumers at all price points, the range now includes stationery, candlesticks, coat hangers and small mirror designs.
Hay seeks to maintain quality at a reasonable cost. By manufacturing smaller accessories and products, the duo is able to offer a more affordable slice of the brand to those consumers feeling the pinch. Rolf explains: 'I think that a lot of people believe that in times of crisis, one has to produce cheaper products. But actually, it has historically been shown that in times of crisis, the consumer wants quality instead. We like to think that the financial crisis gives us a unique opportunity to rethink our platform.' Mette adds: 'Customers want value for money.'
By offering smaller products the customer can still buy into the brand, albeit on a smaller scale. But this might encourage them to spend more money on their next purchase once they experience the quality a Hay product has to offer.
Rolf believes the design industry as a whole has a responsibility to refocus on the product. Recognising that consumers have become smarter and more inquisitive about their purchases, he says, 'I believe that it is crucial to think about products, rather than branding. We must be 100% focused on the products we make, and live up to the expectations the modern consumer has today.'
This story was produced by Decorex Content Partner Stylus.com