Fritz Hansen Takes It Outside

With the recent acquisition of Skagerak, the Danish furniture mainstay brings its winning formula for timeless furnishings to the outdoors.

The Banco Bench by Hugo Passos for Skagerak by Fritz Hansen

Since launching just over 150 years ago, Fritz Hansen has proven instrumental in defining Nordic design and—thanks to partnerships with luminaries like Paul Kjærholm, Hans J. Wegner, and Arne Jacobsen—continues to bring a rich array of timeless classics to living rooms around the world. The Danish furniture brand’s underlying philosophy has remained steady through today: a single piece of furniture can both invigorate an entire room and heighten the well-being of its inhabitants. 

So what about the outdoors? That question was top of mind for CEO Josef Kaiser when he announced Fritz Hansen planned to acquire fellow Danish furniture company Skagerak in late 2021 in step with the former’s ambitious growth strategy. As part of the acquisition, Skagerak would rebrand as “Skagerak by Fritz Hansen” and relocate its showroom to Allerød, a small town half-an-hour north of Copenhagen. “Skagerak and Fritz Hansen are a natural fit,” Kaiser says. “Both are rooted in Nordic design traditions and responsible manufacturing and synonymous with furniture and interior design of the highest quality.” 

For design enthusiasts, it was exciting news—the strategic move meant Fritz Hansen would expand its existing lineup of furniture, lighting, and accessories with Skagerak’s range of indoor-outdoor offerings. It may shock connoisseurs that Fritz Hansen never ventured into outdoor furniture, but Kaiser’s predecessors laid the groundwork for careful expansion. “The first question we tried to answer was ‘what are we missing that’s very difficult to do ourselves?’” Given that developing outdoor furniture requires a complex understanding of weather conditions, materials, and processes to ensure high-quality products that withstand the elements. The partnership, he says, “is about adding products in areas Fritz Hansen doesn’t play otherwise.”

The Banco Bench by Hugo Passos for Skagerak by Fritz Hansen

Things kicked off this spring with the Banco Bench, an understated piece by Portuguese designer Hugo Passos. Made of FSC-certified teak planks, the bench derives beauty from the simple premise of creating furniture that enhances the experience of nature. (It’s fitting that Passos originally made the bench as a one-off for “Social Seating,” a 2019 outdoor furniture exhibition in Finland.) The backrest’s unconventional curved shape is sculpted to accommodate the contours of the body. “The end result is somehow reminiscent of a Japanese daruma or edamame bean, bringing a sort of unexpected softness and dynamism to the strong straight lines of the long teak planks of the seat,” Passos says. “I wanted to make it as pleasant as possible for people to enjoy nature.” 

Enjoying the outdoors is also on Kaiser’s mind as Fritz Hansen prepares to expand the Skagerak collection with new pieces. Air quality remains a dire public health issue around the world, but emissions of certain pollutants have fallen over the past few decades. This means more people are taking time to enjoy the outdoors—and seeing which furniture pieces fit the bill for alfresco enjoyment. “It’s just natural for us to have a solution outdoors for people who like what we do indoors,” Kaiser says. “If that works, I’m the happiest guy.”

The Banco Bench by Hugo Passos for Skagerak by Fritz Hansen
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