From a Scandinavian company which gave countless icons to the history of contemporary design, making the highest quality craftsmanship its flag, you do not expect that to turn in the future relies on a Japanese architect, an American designer, and advanced technology. Industry 4.0, on the other hand, passes also here. Carl Hansen & Son has a history dating back a century; first carpentry, then a company which created some of the most famous icons of furniture design – Wishbone Chair – CH 24, CH25, Wing Chair – CH445, Shell Chair – CH07, with designers who made the history of furniture design like Hans Wegner and Poul Kjærholm.

Around 2010, Knud Erik Hansen, Managing Director, began to feel the need to look for new ways, as he explained himself to us “After several years of mainly dealing with reissues, I started to feel the need to talk to some designers about some new project; the reissues, while respecting the great tradition of Carl Hansen & Son, were no longer exciting. In addition, I saw that it was necessary to start designing a new future for the company. Today, making good products is no longer enough. Consumers are much more conscious, they are looking for products respecting the environment, they are much more informed, they know the materials, they are demanding. It is therefore necessary to consider many factors in the project, many more than in the past.”

Heading this new direction, in 2013 came the collaboration with the Japanese architect Tadao Ando, who designed the Dream Chair, Carl Hansen & Son’s first chair made with 3D veneer, a technique that allows for different curvatures and therefore much more comfortable seating. From the Dream Chair and Japan, the evolution to an American designer and an entire collection of 3D veneered chairs must have come in a rather natural way. First because Brad Ascalon, the New Yorker designer who developed the project, has always loved Scandinavian design and in his DNA has creativity and innovation, then because for Carl Hansen & Son it was definitely time to make the big leap towards a more technological future, and with more contemporary and “informal” products.

Brad Ascalon

As Brad Ascalon explained: “I really enjoyed working with Carl Hansen & Son, especially as they left me free to express myself to the full. The Preludia collection develops the full potential of 3D veneer, which allows to have extremely comfortable and ergonomic chairs, without additional mechanisms; the curvature allows you to have a very comfortable backrest, even in the high stool. In addition, Preludia is a collection dedicated to contract, so it had a number of stringent requirements, including the need to have a low cost. Last but not least, with this technology it is possible to obtain a product that has the same definition and attention to detail as a handcrafted product, even though it is industrial.”

Dream Chair, by Tadao Ando for Carl Hansen & Son.

The Preludia collection includes a chair with different bases – wooden and metal legs, sled base -, a barstool and a table, with laminate top, frame in solid wood and joints in die-cast aluminium. Ascalon concludes: “Preludia is an indisputably contract collection, but its versatility makes it suitable even for more informal homes, with a contemporary style. It is the result of a collective effort that has convinced the company from the very first sketches and fully expresses Carl Hansen & Son’s DNA and my design philosophy.”