A preview of Hay's new chair


21 February 2013

"Danish brands aren't as humble as Swedish ones," says Henrik Schulz. He pauses. "They get shit done."

So it's good that Schulz's latest design is for the Danish brand Hay. Schulz, a Swedish designer and architect, has created a stackable wooden chair for Hay, a design that was previewed at the Stockholm furniture fair.

The chair, a gently curving seat resting on top of conjoined front and back legs, was originally developed for car brand Volvo. "Volvo was doing a global exhibition of its trucks and wanted me to suggest some stackable chairs for it," says Schulz. "They didn’t like any of my suggestions.

"I proposed the TipTon chair from Barber Osgerby, which I really love, but which was too plastic-y for Volvo. Then all of the wooden chairs that I suggested were either too heavy, stacked very poorly, or were too expensive. It’s hard to find a good, stackable wooden chair. So I designed one."

The Volvo exhibition was ultimately postponed, although Schulz's design will still feature in an event hosted by Volvo in Sweden in April: a dinner in a Gothenburg cave stocked with 200 examples of the chair. It is, to Schulz's mind, an opportunity to improve upon his previous work with stackable furniture: the 2002 Linn chair for Swedese.

"I learned a lot from that chair," he says. "I still think that it was a good design, but it didn’t pass all of the tests I wanted it too: it broke on some. So this new chair is a chance to solve all of those problems I had back in 2002. It’s been a very long process, but what I wanted to create was a modern version of Alvar Aalto's stacking chair"

As well as a chance to improve upon earlier work, working for Hay is an opportunity for Schulz to collaborate with a company from Denmark, the country in which he trained as a designer at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts and the Danish Design School.

"I thought it would be really nice to do something with the Danes," says Schulz. "I think Danish brands are better at selling big volumes than Swedish companies, which has something to do with Denmark's history as a mercantile nation; it never had the natural resources that Sweden did, so it has always been forced to trade."

When Hay will begin to sell the design has yet to be decided, as has the chair's name. "All I know is what I call it," says Schulze. "'Wei'. It means ‘Hi’ in Mandarin. So if you lift up the phone in China, you say ‘Wei’. I thought that was kind of nice."