Once upon a time there was a Danish company that produced beautiful wooden furniture. They were elegant design pieces, comfortable and almost entirely handmade. Once upon a time there was Carl Hansen & Søn…. and there still is!
The company has been making history since 1908 and we met their CEO – Mr. Knud Erik Hansen – to tell us about it.
I love the way you make products that are beautiful and extremely comfortable at the same time: is this the key to your success?
It is only a part of it. The key to our success is hard work and also the high quality and comfort, along with the history and experience of the company and all its products. Many of these were made for the first time 60 years ago and are still in production today. Behind every product there is an important story of high quality that is sold at reasonable prices. All this is the key to our success.
Your products constantly look to innovation and the future but also take tradition seriously. How important is craftsmanship for you?
There are a good 300 people working for us who create hand-made products. Most of the work is done entirely by hand: we have magnificent Italian machines that cut the wood, but all the remaining work is completely hand-made in order to avoid any small defects in the final piece. I believe that about 70% of the effort we put into our products is manual, and so craftsmanship and tradition are key factors for us.
In recent years particularly, many companies are paying a good deal of attention to sustainability during their production processes. How important is ecology for you?
It is extremely important! Looking to the future is a corporate priority for us. Smog and pollution have invaded our cities and we have a duty to fight them. The demand for green products is high and fortunately will continue to grow. All our production is Danish and in Denmark about 50% of the electricity produced comes from clean, sustainable energy and over the next 10 years we will get closer to 95%. Our products are made of wood, the energy we use is natural, so it’s a totally controlled and environmentally friendly production system.
You say that every one of your products has its own story to tell: can you tell us the fairytale of Carl Hansen & Søn?
I think the main factor is the fact that we have been a family firm for 108 years. I am part of the 4th generation, I have two children who are interested in working in our company and I’m educating them to look after it. As I said before we have about 300 employees and we all know one another. This is very important for a business and many companies envy us for it. Our history is also reflected in the products: each piece has its own history and continues to tell it for years. So I would say that it is this that is our fairytale!