Just before Christmas the Danish interiors and furniture brand HAY opened it’s first shop south of Shanghai. Situated in Sydney’s vibrant inner-city suburb of Surry HiIls on the corner of Crown and Campbell streets, the store showcases the brand’s full range to an eagerly awaiting Australian public. The official opening on the 20th of January brought co- founder Rolf Hay to Australia where he candidly explained the direction the brand is heading and the guiding principles under which HAY operates.
Sydney has had the good fortune of having access to HAY products since 2003 due to the foresight of Richard Munao, CEO of Cult Design, who was one of the first to commit to distributing the brand outside of Europe. To date the range has been shown as part of the large number of brands distributed by Cult and as a consequence only an edited selection was on show. The move to a stand alone store has been in the wind for sometime but it was the tricky matter of finding the right location that held things up. HAY were keen on a corner location in an area that combined shopping with restaurants and residential. Their choice of store locations worldwide is purposefully idiosyncratic as they prefer HAY store fronts to be individual and linked to the history and culture of each individual city. HAY in Antwerp is a small store hidden away in a courtyard with no direct windows to the street while HAY Copenhagen is a vast space on the first and second floor of a handsome stone building in the city’s central shopping precinct.
Sydney by contrast is a modern looking commercial building whose character has largely come as a consequence of the HAY fit out with an impressive marble entrance desk with stairs and wall paneling in American oak built by Sydney joinery workshop JP Finsbury. The collaboration with JP Finsbury was no accident. As a bespoke joinery workshop that works with a number of leading Australian designers in developing prototypes, JP Finsbury also produce limited run furniture pieces such as Adam Goodrum’s designs for Cult. The relationship developed during this process led to Munao approaching Adam Price from JP FInsbury to the create the timber 'core' of the new store.
The use of the stone and timber in combination with a few strong colour walls in khaki green has made the space warmer but retained a clean and simple backdrop in which to display the Hay and sister brand Wrong for Hay collections with their array of colourful accessories and modern furniture pieces.
Co-founder, Metta Hay plays an important role in the success of the brand. With overall control of the colour and material palette of the brand, she has created a strong aesthetic identity for the relatively young brand, lifting it beyond other new Scandinavian and Nordic design outfits such as Normann Copenhagen and Muuto. Both Metta and Rolf Hay are also very hands on when it comes to the selection of new designs and liason with designers. While they have in house
The choice of creatives which style, photograph, design sets, installations and trade stands for the brand has been an important part of the brand’s overall success too, with the likes of graphic designer and art director Clara von Zweigbergk, set designer Shane Schneck and photographer Rasmus Norlander pushing a new direction in product photography. The style has been picked up by magazines and stylists worldwide and forced many to reassess their approach to colour and composition.
Dutch designers Scholten & Baijings have been working with HAY for many years and their approach has helped to formulate the brands colour palette including the injections of neon lime and orange counterbalanced by pastels as in their 'Colour carpets' and 'Colour Block' bed linen.
Beside their unique way with colour, Scholten & Baijings have also brought a sensitivity to the HAY brand that perhaps finds its best expression in their 'Paper Porcelain' vessels.
Since 2013 the British designer Sebastian Wrong has also been part of the HAY family as artistic director of HAY’s sister brand, Wrong For Hay. More directional, Wrong for Hay has allowed for some radical concepts such as Stefan Diez’s ‘Rope Trick’ light to make it into production.
It is precisely this ability to mix highly saleable objects with those that break with convention that keeps the brand’s image exciting and unique. One of Rolf Hay’s candid confessions was that the company has had some failures over the years – products that for whatever reason just don’t sell. The ‘Nobody’ chair by German designers Komplot falls into this category despite winning numerous design awards.
The chair is made from recycled PET bottles in a form of synthetic felt that is moulded into a thin skin that can bear the weight of a person without requiring any additional structure. The result is a brilliant lightweight design that can be stacked and which actively removes pollutants from the planet. What’s not to like? Since its launch in 2007 however, the sales figures on the ‘Nobody’ chair have been consistently ordinary yet Rolf Hay is adamant that the design remains a key piece in the HAY collection. Others have gone by the wayside such as the ‘Cano’ shelving but the ‘Nobody’ chair lives on as an important symbol of the company's values. This is a great thing. Companies that work in the design field need to be lead by this type of passion rather than being led purely by economics.
In April Hay will once again be showing in Milan (as they do every second year). New products will be launched at the famous La Pelota futsal courts in Milan’s Brera district and include a flat-pack sofa from the Bouroullec brothers, the new 'Palissade' outdoor collection (also from the Bouroullecs), a timber stacking chair from Komplot’s Boris Berlin, a task lamp by Pierre Chapin and Sebastian Wrong, along with new products by Stefan Diez and Scholten & Baijings.
HAY Sydney is situated at 8/285a Crown Street, Surry Hills, NSW 2010 and is open Monday - Friday 10 - 6. Thursday 10 - 8. Saturday - Sunday 10 - 5.