Forming a Design Brand
More than 50 years ago, two friends, Stellan and Carton, merged their first names to form Stelton, which became one of Denmark’s best-known design brands. Niels Stellan Høm and Carton Madelaire partnered to start a trading company in 1960. After marketing sports shoes and furniture, they learned about a small factory in Fårevejle, Denmark, Danish Stainless, that produced stainless steel tableware. In an agreement with the company, they began marketing its products, which were popular in 1960s Denmark. Building on that style trend in the United States, Stelton products represented the best of Danish design.
Peter Holmblad joined Stelton as managing director and applied his vision to create a new design brand with fresh catalogues, packaging and graphic design. Facing an environment of many competing companies making similar products, Holmblad was convinced that Stelton products could survive only through new product design. As the stepson of Arne Jacobsen, Denmark’s great architect and designer, Holmblad tried to convince Jacobsen to design something new for Stelton.
Decades of Design Classics
Arne Jacobsen created a tea and coffee service, as well as bowls, an ice bucket and pitchers for the dining table and bar – all in stainless steel. Launched three years later as the Cylinda-Line, the products featured simple cylindrical shapes and specially designed plastic handles. Cylinda’s brushed steel surfaces were a striking contrast to the highly polished curves of competitors’ items.
A 30-year collaboration began when Peter Holmblad’s business acumen blended with designer Erik Magnussen’s creative power in the Stelton Vacuum Jug. In the 1980s and 1990s, the duo produced many design successes that appealed to generations of gift givers. (insert photo of Vacuum Jug)
New Directions Balance Function and Design
Peter Holmblad sold Stelton in 2004 and the new owner, Michael Ring, reinvigorated the company, trimming the assortment and inviting new designers to furnish innovative product ideas to meet current consumer needs. Stelton added new lines to appeal to a broader range of consumer groups.
Michael says he finds inspiration for new products when taking his sailboat from Vedbaek (Denmark) around the island Hven, sailing alone with the wind and the ocean. “The perfect harmony allows my mind to wander and new concepts emerge,” he explains.
Creating products that exemplify Scandinavian design, where “less is more,” he is not influenced by Versailles in Paris or other very decorative eras. “I love classic modern architecture of the 1950s to 1970s in Manhattan or what is being built now in Guangzhou, China,” Michael says. “Twice a year, we send out design briefs to the designers who have already created products for us. New designers can send in proposals for what they think we are missing. We go through hundreds of design proposals, select what we like best and leave those concepts on the conference table for several weeks. Then we revisit the ideas to determine the final choices.”
Modern Stelton Products—Designed for All Ages and Uses
“We identify our core audience when we outline a design brief,” Michael explains. “We have different product lines, and some aim for a slightly differing demographic.
For example, RIG-TIG and Stelton are two different brands. RIG-TIG, which means “right” in Danish, focuses on the right function, design and resources. Stelton products are items for the table and for home decor; RIG-TIG offers multi-function kitchenware. The company tries to reduce the environmental impact of producing these products wherever possible, Michael says.
The most representative RIG-TIG items are the BOX-IT Bread Box, the DISHY 2-in-1 Solution and the EASY Collection.
Stelton’s elegant, timeless designs epitomize Danish minimalism, now appropriate for 21st century homes. Aiming to increase global awareness of the brand, Stelton realigned its international trade show calendar to present its full range of products in its appearance at the 2017 International Home + Housewares Show.
”Too many retailers in our industry do not present consumers with what they should buy tomorrow, but show them what they bought last year,” Michael says. In Chicago, Stelton will premier its latest collections of functional, beautiful products – bringing Danish design for tomorrow to new audiences.
To learn more about Stelton products, see www.stelton.com.
See the variety of RIG-TIG offerings at www.rig-tig.com.
For more interviews with interesting designers and housewares innovators, visit the Discovering Design blog. (link to: http://blog.housewares.org/index.php/category/discover-design)