The 150-year-old Danish design house Australians love
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The 150-year-old Danish design house Australians love

As it celebrates its 150th anniversary today, we look back on Fritz Hansen and this Danish design house’s ongoing love affair with Australia

By Robyn Willis
Mon, Oct 24, 2022 4:25pmGrey Clock 2 min

Fritz Hansen may not be a household name beyond design circles but chances are you’re already familiar with the work of this Danish furniture company. From the first Danish steamed ‘bentwood’ chair created by the founder’s son in Copenhagen in 1915 to the work of 21st century Spanish designer Jaime Hayon, Fritz Hansen has built its reputation on innovation and collaboration.

Today marks the 150th anniversary of this iconic furniture house.

Cabinet maker Fritz Hansen gained his trade licence in October 1872 and by 1885 he opened his own production company creating high quality furniture. For the next 50 years, the business thrived, as Hansen, working alongside his son Christian, gained significant contracts from the likes of the Danish Parliament and the Supreme Court at Christiansburg Palace.

As he continued to innovate, working with steel in the 1930s and then stockpiling walnut in the post war years when timber was scarce, Hansen also sought out collaboration, working with architect and designer Arne Jacobsen and fellow master craftsman, Hans J Wegner, among others.

Between them, this trio are responsible for some of the most recognisable furniture pieces, not just in Denmark, but around the world.

This included Wegner’s China Chair, which was released in 1944, followed by fellow designer Børge Mogensen’s spoke back sofa a year later. They were instant hits and, like many mid century pieces from Fritz Hansen, both designs are still in production today.

Other pieces followed, including Arne Jacobsen’s Ant Chair and the hugely popular Series 7 chairs, which have become synonymous with stylish corporate environments.

While they were consistently in demand internationally, the Fritz Hansen catalogue really took off in Australia with the resurgence of mid century design at the turn of the 21st century.

Director of Australian designer furniture company Cult, Richard Munao, said when his business began to represent Fritz Hansen more than 20 years ago, Australians were familiar with the classics, such as the Egg chair and Swan chair, but it was clear that there was much more to draw on.

“We changed the whole language,” Mr Munao said. “Everyone knows the classics but we wanted people to see Fritz Hansen in a way they hadn’t seen before.”

Now more popular than ever, the classics have continued to be strong sellers, especially among the hospitality and commercial office sectors. Mr Munao said despite the distances there’s a certain synchronicity between nations.

“There are a lot of shared values between Denmark and Australia,” he said. “They also love the outdoors and they are really relaxed with a similar sense of humour.

“And they like to surround themselves with beautiful things.”

As the Fritz Hansen range gained ground here, other Danish brands have followed, including HAY, PP Møbler and Carl Hansen & Son.

Even as the company marks its 150th year, Mr Munao says Fritz Hansen continues to strive for beautiful, functional pieces that will live on.

“They don’t want to be seen just as a heritage brand,” he said. “In the past five to 10 years they’ve picked up Jaime Hayon, among others.

“Everything has a beautiful story and that makes our job so much easier. People keep coming back.”

To mark the anniversary, Fritz Hansen has released a range of special edition pieces in limited edition upholstery and finishes, including the Egg chair, Swan chair and the Series 7.

“Our biggest sales last year were Series 7 chairs,” Mr Munao said. “It was a government project for 1800 chairs.”

Some things never go out of style. 


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What We Fight About When We Fight About Money

New research tackles the source of financial conflict and what we can do about it

Mon, Nov 27, 2023 3 min

When couples argue over money, the real source of the conflict usually isn’t on their bank statement.

Financial disagreements tend to be stand-ins for deeper issues in our relationships, researchers and couples counsellors said, since the way we use money is a reflection of our values, character and beliefs. Persistent fights over spending and saving often doom romantic partnerships: Even if you fix the money problem, the underlying issues remain.

To understand what the fights are really about, new research from social scientists at Carleton University in Ottawa began with a unique data set: more than 1,000 posts culled from a relationship forum on the social-media platform Reddit. Money was a major thread in the posts, which largely broke down into complaints about one-sided decision-making, uneven contributions, a lack of shared values and perceived unfairness or irresponsibility.

By analysing and categorising the candid messages, then interviewing hundreds of couples, the researchers said they have isolated some of the recurring patterns behind financial conflicts.

The research found that when partners disagree about mundane expenses, such as grocery bills and shop receipts, they tend to have better relationships. Fights about fair contributions to household finances and perceived financial irresponsibility are particularly detrimental, however.

While there is no cure-all to resolve the disputes, the antidote in many cases is to talk about money more, not less, said Johanna Peetz, a professor of psychology at Carleton who co-authored the study.

“You should discuss finances more in relationships, because then small things won’t escalate into bigger problems,” she said.

A partner might insist on taking a vacation the other can’t afford. Another married couple might want to separate their previously combined finances. Couples might also realize they no longer share values they originally brought to the relationship.

Recognise patterns

Differentiating between your own viewpoint on the money fight from that of your partner is no easy feat, said Thomas Faupl, a marriage and family psychotherapist in San Francisco. Where one person sees an easily solvable problem—overspending on groceries—the other might see an irrevocable rift in the relationship.

Faupl, who specialises in helping couples work through financial difficulties, said many partners succeed in finding common ground that can keep them connected amid heated discussions. Identifying recurring themes in the most frequent conflicts also helps.

“There is something very visceral about money, and for a lot of people, it has to do with security and power,” he said. “There’s permutations on the theme, and that could be around responsibility, it could be around control, it could be around power, it could be around fairness.”

Barbara Krenzer and John Stone first began their relationship more than three decades ago. Early on in their conversations, the Syracuse, N.Y.-based couple opened up about what they both felt to be most important in life: spending quality time with family and investing in lifelong memories.

“We didn’t buy into the big lifestyle,” Krenzer said. “Time is so important and we both valued that.”

For Krenzer and Stone, committing to that shared value meant making sacrifices. Krenzer, a physician, reduced her work hours while raising their three children. Stone trained as an attorney, but once Krenzer went back to full-time work, he looked for a job that let him spend the mornings with the children.

“Compromise: That’s a word they don’t say enough with marriage,” Krenzer said. “You have to get beyond the love and say, ‘Do I want to compromise for them and find that middle ground?’”

Money talks

Talking about numbers behind a behaviour can help bring a couple out of a fight and back to earth, Faupl said. One partner might rue the other’s tightfistedness, but a discussion of the numbers reveals the supposed tightwad is diligently saving money for the couple’s shared future.

“I get under the hood with people so we can get black-and-white numbers on the table,” he said. “Are these conversations accurate, or are they somehow emotionally based?”

Couples might follow tenets of good financial management and build wealth together, but conflict is bound to arise if one partner feels the other isn’t honouring that shared commitment, Faupl said.

“If your partner helps with your savings goals, then that feels instrumental to your own goals, and that is a powerful drive for feeling close to the partner and valuing that relationship,” he said.

A sense of mission

When it comes to sticking out the hard times, “sharing values is important, even more so than sharing personality traits,” Peetz said. In her own research, Peetz found that romantic partners who disagreed about shared values could one day split up as a result.

“That is the crux of the conflict often: They each have a different definition,” she said of themes such as fairness and responsibility.

And sometimes, it is worth it to really dig into the potentially difficult conversations around big money decisions. When things are working well, coming together to achieve these common goals—such as saving for your own retirement or preparing for your children’s financial future—will create intimacy, not money strife.

“That is a powerful drive for feeling close to the partner and valuing that relationship,” she said.


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