We met Ottorino Castegnaro, the area manager for Carl Hansen & Søn, who told us everything regarding what the Danish company represents today, and the global vision of this international brand.
The company Carl Hansen & Søn was born in 1908 by the carpenter Carl Hansen, who founded his first furniture workshop at Odense, Denmark. How did you get so far and how did the company evolve during years?
During these 106 years the company years has definitely gone through important evolutions, first you have to consider something, the Scandinavian architecture has always had a strong craftsmenship, we can talk about micro-business, almost at familiar level, with very small volumes. During the last 30 years the company got some substantial changes, arriving at years 2000s with a generational passage, where Knud Erik Hansen became the new owner, and the company saw an exponential growth, even in a not favourable moment. The continuity of the production process lead the business from being strictly related to craftsmanship to an industrial level, always maintaining a big part of the handmade production. The employees today are about 250, divided between the original productive area and the worlwide locations, where the distributions is managed directly with internal executives without external agencies or branches.
Carl Hansen & Søn managed to arise thanks to clear strategy of productive innovation, but especially maintaining the historical philosophy dedicated to the masters of design and architecture such as Hans J. Wegner, whose products have actually a wide space in the catalogue, merging perfectly with the new pieces unveiled each year. Another great element which differentiate CHS today is definitely a 100% Danish production, internal at the company, with 3 factories, where one of these is dedicated entirely to the manufacturing of the Wishbone Chair, getting out almost to 47000 pieces a year, keeping in consideration which this seat has 120 m of paperboard entirely weaved by hand. The distribution is worldwide, from Japan, to both the USA coasts, and in Europe where we opened our latest mono brand showroom in the design district in London. The wish of the company is to maintain a big handmade production area, through the people linked directly to the company.
As usual during our interview we ask if there is an object or an inspiration which follows you and helps to to improve in your own profession.
More than an object, my mission is the one I live in my daily work, and that has grown in about 24 years of professional experience. The concept that can get close to my own inspiration and emotion is the one that ties me up to the passion for design and timeless pieces. This strongly associate me to the idea of the Carl Hansen & Søn company, with its historical pieces in its catalogue, such as the Shell Chair by Hans J. Wegner, which we celebrated the 50th birthday last year. These objects of absolute modernism and almost contemporaneity go on to influence the trends, even if they were designed more than 70 years ago.
Getting back to the company Carl Hansen & Søn and to Denmark, how do you see the relationship with the Italian design?
This is my own thought, but I think that can be embrace also other kind of relations, it is with no doubt that the two schools of thought, Italian and Danish, have had many meeting moments and possibility of creating synergies during the history. Never like today the project of an Italian living wants the Danish design piece, and also the Danish designers themselves are very close to Italian architecture, with a good eye to Italy, which is seen as one of the markets that leads the architecture the design worlds. Today in an Italian residential project (where we have seen a big influence of minimalism) a Danish piece with its great history and shapes, comes almost fundamental for the huge synergy that comes out from the meeting of these two styles.