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Hay design is creating affordable furniture and housewares through innovative manufacturing

For offering options to North Americans who’ve typically had few choices between Wayfair and high-end European brands such as Poltrona Frau, husband and wife cofounders Mette and Rolf Hay are Fast Company Most Creative People for 2019.

Hay design is creating affordable furniture and housewares through innovative manufacturing
[Illustration: Artur Tenczyński]
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Danish design brand Hay has developed a global cult following for its high-quality, affordable furniture and houseware collaborations with designers from all over the world. Hay views manufacturing as crucial to innovation. “We wanted to work with designers from our generation, taking advantage of the production possibilities,” says Rolf Hay, who has run the company with Mette Hay, now his wife, since 2002. An outdoor furniture line emerged after a supplier developed a robot that could weld metal inexpensively. Hay created a sleek capsule collection for Ikea in 2017 and limited-edition colorways for Sonos’s One speaker in 2018. Following a 33% acquisition last year by Herman Miller for $66 million, Hay has a supply chain in the U.S., and its products are now available at Design Within Reach. Hay has also opened stores in Portland, Oregon, and Costa Mesa, California, with two more expected stateside by the end of 2019, offering options to North Americans who’ve typically had few choices between Wayfair and high-end European brands such as Poltrona Frau. The best thing about the deal, says Mette, is that “it’s not changing the way we work.”

About the author

Suzanne LaBarre is the editor of Co.Design. Previously, she was the online content director of Popular Science and has written for the New York Times, the New York Observer, Newsday, I.D

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