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“One of the most important things for our company is to make footprints of our own time,” says Rolf Hay, of his eponymous Copenhagen-based company launched in 2003 at the international furniture fair IMM Cologne.  His idea was to bring Danish design to a new creative peak that rivaled the storied 1950s and 1960s—but with a modern update. As creative director, he’s committed to nurturing young upstarts and also “exploring the twisted minds of established designers” and giving both a platform.

In practice, that means seeking out imaginative products and evaluating them on their own merits rather than first commissioning a design for certain type of item. And he says his greatest thrill is seeing a prototype for the first time. “We work in a different way to the way our parents did, but we basically live in the same way,” Rolf says. “The news is that there is nothing new, except the possibilities. And that’s great fun.”