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New Order more than lives up to its name. Hay’s shelving system—developed with German designer Stefan Diez—truly breaks with the past. With its aluminum structure, single shelves can be up to 2 meters (more than 6 feet) long and support books and other substantial items that would make lesser shelves bend. The units can be placed anywhere, from the middle of a room to mounted on a wall. Endlessly combinable as open or closed units, with available back panels, side panels and folding doors in a range of wood veneers. More personalization comes with the selection of powder-coated frame colors and a choice of flat or tray shelves. Welcome to the New Order!
“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.”
Stefan Diez took a hands-on approach to becoming a designer—he started out as a carpenter. “My father was a carpenter and he built furniture. His workshop was in our house,” says Stefan, who as a youngster learned enough to earn pocket money. After a 3-year stint as a cabinetmaker, he studied at Stuttgart’s Academy of Art and Design. “It turned out design was never just an option for me but a legacy.”
From his studio in an old Munich woodworking factory (rebuilt with help from his father), Stefan’s work ranges from furniture and tableware to industrial design to museum exhibits for clients such as Established & Sons and Hay. And he’s still looking for new ways to build things. “When you design something today, it’s like having to plant a new tree in the forest—so many things already exist,” he says. “If you don’t start from innovating the production process, you remain stuck inside old boundaries.”