With the recent opening of Republic of Fritz Hansen’s flagship store in Manila, collectors of such iconic furniture pieces as the Egg, Drop, Ro and Ant don’t have to travel or order abroad to beef up their collections.
Represented exclusively in the Philippines by Suyen Corp., the 143-year-old Danish brand occupies a huge and strategic section of Studio Dimensione at Bonifacio Global City in Taguig.
“We’ve been here for almost two years,” said Dario Reicherl, Republic of Fritz Hansen’s VP for Asia-Pacific. “But this is our official launch in a new and redesigned showroom.”
It also took Fritz Hansen some time to finalize its product offering.
From its 60-piece collection designed by some of the world’s most famous names in furniture such as Arne Jacobsen, Paul Kjærholm, Piero Lissoni and Jaime Hayon, the Copenhagen-based company is initially presenting a little over 20 pieces in its BGC store.
The product lineup includes several versions of Jacobsen’s Egg, Swan and Drop chairs, and Hayon’s Ro chair. These statement pieces come in various colors and materials. The high-back Ro chair, for instance, comes in shades of yellow and blue.
“We don’t have it here, but we even have a Ro in pink. It’s one of our bestsellers,” said Reicherl.
The brand’s main come-on to Filipinos, he said, is the fact that “we’re still very old school.” To do an Egg chair, for instance, an experienced craftsman would have to do 1,200 stitches by hand.
Filipinos aren’t just into form and function. They also appreciate a brand’s heritage and the attention to detail, said Reicherl.
Compared to fabric, a delicate material such as leather requires slower, more painstaking work. Even the Egg’s wooden frame is done by hand.
The company, which used to be family-owned until Skandinavisk Holdings acquired it in 1979 before it went global, operates a factory north of Copenhagen.
“That’s why a typical craftsman involved in the Egg is around 50 to 60 years old,” said Reicherl. “Doing it requires a great deal of skill. He needs to be very experienced.”
In Europe, the Egg, which Jacobsen first designed in the late ‘50s for the Royal Hotel in Copenhagen, costs from 5,000 to 12,000 euros, depending on the material.
At 300 euros, the Drop is a more affordable alternative to the Egg. Also designed by Jacobsen, the equally iconic piece wasn’t mass-produced immediately after a few pieces were unveiled also in the late ’50s at the Royal Hotel.
“We started commercially producing the Drop chair just last year,” said Reicherl. “When it was first made, Fritz Hansen considered it too difficult for the market to understand. It was so ahead of its time that critics say it’s a product designed for this century.”
But even the Egg, which Fritz Hansen began to mass-produce in the early ’60s, was also way ahead of its time. The company considers the three—the Egg, Drop and Swan—as siblings.
“These three products came from the same layout drawn by the same designer for the same hotel,” said Reicherl.
Jacobsen, who had a long and fruitful relationship with the company until his death in 1971, also designed the Royal Hotel’s building and interiors. He then appointed Fritz Hansen to execute his furniture designs.
The Ro, which means tranquility, also has a lot of fans. Designed by Hayon, a contemporary artist and furniture designer, the huge chair comes with a high, concave back that deflects sound.
“The Ro is basically a representation of the human body with the neck, shoulders and back,” said Reicherl.
Based on initial feedback he has been getting, the Singapore-based Reicherl is excited about Fritz Hansen’s prospects in the Philippines.
“So many Filipinos are asking smart, intelligent questions about our products,” said Reicherl. “It means there’s interest in and awareness of the brand.”
The company chose to partner with Dimensione because Ben Chan, chair and CEO of Suyen Corp., is a big fan of Fritz Hansen. He owns several of the brand’s iconic pieces.
“We need people like them who appreciate and know how to talk about Fritz Hansen,” said Reicherl. “After all, we don’t just produce furniture pieces. They’re like art already. If you like cars, particularly Rolls-Royce, then Fritz Hansen is the Rolls-Royce of furniture pieces.”