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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Companies are eager to hire strong players who use hybrid work schedules to schmooze clients on the course

By CALLUM BORCHERS
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Standout golfers who aren’t quite PGA Tour material now have somewhere else to play professionally: Corporate America.

People who can smash 300-yard drives and sink birdie putts are sought-after hires in finance, consulting, sales and other industries, recruiters say. In the hybrid work era, the business golf outing is back in a big way.

Executive recruiter Shawn Cole says he gets so many requests to find ace golfers that he records candidates’ handicaps, an index based on average number of strokes over par, in the information packets he submits to clients. Golf alone can’t get you a plum job, he says—but not playing could cost you one.

“I know a guy that literally flies around the world in a private jet loaded with French wine, and he golfs and lands hundred-million-dollar deals,” Cole says.

Tee times and networking sessions have long gone hand-in-golf-glove. Despite criticism that doing business on the course undermines diversity, equity and inclusion efforts—and the fact that golf clubs haven’t always been open to women and minorities —people who mix golf and work say the outings are one of the last reprieves from 30-minute calendar blocks

Stars like Tiger Woods and Michelle Wie West helped expand participation in the sport. Still, just 22% of golfers are nonwhite and 26% are women, according to the National Golf Foundation.

To lure more people, clubs have relaxed rules against mobile-phone use on the course, embracing white-collar professionals who want to entertain clients on the links without disconnecting from the office. It’s no longer taboo to check email from your cart or take a quick call at the halfway turn.

With so much other business conducted virtually, shaking hands on the green and schmoozing over clubhouse beers is now seen as making an extra effort, not slacking off.

Americans played a record 531 million rounds last year. Weekday play has nearly doubled since 2019, with much of the action during business hours , according to research by Stanford University economist Nicholas Bloom .

“It would’ve been scandalous in 2019 to be having multiple meetings a week on the golf course,” Bloom says. “In 2024, if you’re producing results, no one’s going to see anything wrong with it.”

A financial adviser at a major Wall Street bank who competes on the amateur circuit told me he completes 90% of his tasks by 10 a.m. because he manages long-term investment plans that change infrequently. The rest of his workday often involves golfing with clients and prospects. He’s a member of a private club with a multiyear waiting list, and people jump at the chance to join him on a course they normally can’t access.

There is an art to bringing in business this way. He never initiates shoptalk, telling his playing partners the round is about having fun and getting to know each other. They can’t resist asking about investment strategies by the back nine, he says.

Work hard, play hard

Matt Parziale golfed professionally on minor-league tours for several years, but when his dream of making the big time ended, he had to get a regular job. He became a firefighter, like his dad.

A few years later he won one of the biggest amateur tournaments in the country, earning spots in the 2018 Masters and U.S. Open, where he tied for first among non-pros.

The brush with celebrity brought introductions to business types that Parziale, 35 years old, says he wouldn’t have met otherwise. One connection led to a job with a large insurance broker. In 2022 he jumped to Deland, Gibson Insurance Associates in Wellesley, Mass., which recognised his golf game as a tool to help win large accounts.

He rescheduled our interview because he was hosting clients at a private club on Cape Cod, and squeezed me in the next morning, before teeing off with a business group in Newport, R.I.

A short time ago, Parziale couldn’t imagine making a living this way. Now he’s the norm in elite amateur golf circles.

“I look around at the guys at the events I play, and they all have these jobs ,” he says.

His boss, Chief Executive Chip Gibson, says Parziale is good at bringing in business because he puts as much effort into building relationships as honing his game. A golf outing is merely an opportunity to build trust that can eventually lead to a deal, and it’s a misconception that people who golf during work hours don’t work hard, he says.

Barry Allison’s single-digit handicap is an asset in his role as a management consultant at Accenture , where he specialises in travel and hospitality. He splits time between Washington, D.C., and The Villages, Fla., a golf mecca that boasts more than 50 courses.

It can be hard to get to know people in distributed work environments, he says. Go golfing and you’ll learn a lot about someone’s temperament—especially after a bad shot.

“If you see a guy snap a club over his knee, you don’t know what he’s going to snap next,” Allison says.

Special access

On a recent afternoon I was a lunch guest at Brae Burn Country Club, a private enclave outside Boston that was the site of U.S. Golf Association championships won by legends like Walter Hagen and Bobby Jones. I parked in the second lot because the first one was full—on a Wednesday.

My host was Cullen Onstott, managing director of the Onstott Group executive search firm and a former collegiate golfer at Fairfield University. He explained one reason companies prize excellent golfers is they can put well-practiced swings on autopilot and devote most of their attention to chitchat.

It’s hard to talk with potential customers about their needs and interests when you’re hunting for errant shots in the woods. It’s also challenging if you show off.

The first hole at Brae Burn is a 318-yard par 4 that slopes down, enabling big hitters like Onstott to reach the putting green in a single stroke. But to stay close to his playing partners and keep the conversation flowing, he sometimes hits a shorter shot.

Having an “in” at an exclusive club can make you a catch. Bo Burch, an executive recruiter in North Carolina, says clubs in his region tend to attract members according to their business sectors. One might be chock-full of real-estate investors while another has potential buyers of industrial manufacturing equipment.

Burch looks for candidates who are members of clubs that align with his clients’ industries, though he stresses that business acumen comes first when filling positions.

Tami McQueen, a former Division I tennis player and current chief marketing officer at Atlanta investment firm BIP Capital, signed up for private golf lessons this year. She had noticed colleagues were wearing polos with course logos and bringing their clubs to work. She wanted in.

McQueen joined business associates on the golf course for the first time in March at the PGA National Resort in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. She has lowered her handicap to a respectable 26 and says her new skill lends a professional edge.

“To be able to say, ‘I can play with you and we can have those business meetings on the course’ definitely opens a lot more doors,” she says.

MOST POPULAR
11 ACRES ROAD, KELLYVILLE, NSW

This stylish family home combines a classic palette and finishes with a flexible floorplan

35 North Street Windsor

Just 55 minutes from Sydney, make this your creative getaway located in the majestic Hawkesbury region.

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