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Sometimes the biggest enhancements involve the smallest tweaks. Hee Welling is a master at pushing tradition into newly improved directions, both in form and function. Rolf Hay of Denmark's Hay discovered Hee at the Copenhagen fair just months after he graduated from Designskole. It's been a match made in design heaven. For his eponymous Hee chair series, he considered the most elemental of forms, ones that "would not impose" on the user. He also sought flexibility: a chair that can be used indoors and outdoors. As Mr. Hay points out: "Hee understands the paradox of simplicity: that it is in the details, the finishing touches, and in the meeting between the two that designing demands extreme precision. The ultimate in simplicity makes great demands on details and finish, and Hee is so very good at that. In that manner Hee has already made a place for himself in the modern and function-oriented Scandinavian furniture tradition.” To that we say: Hee Ya!
“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.”
“My father was a cabinetmaker so, ever since I was a kid, I played around in his workshop creating different objects,” says youthful Copenhagen-based designer Hee Welling. “Besides that, I spent hours drawing, almost every day, so it has always been obvious for me that I wanted to do something creative.” That urge came to be tempered with an appreciation for the Scandinavian design tradition with its legacy of “the beauty of the simple objects, with a clean expression, functional use and logic details.“
After graduating from the Danish Royal Academy of Fine Arts, he quickly established his namesake studio. An early collaboration with Denmark maker Hay resulted in his breakthrough Hee seating, an eco-friendly grouping made from easily recyclable materials in a modern but not overwhelmingly trendy design. Following up with his notable About A Chair series, also for Hay, he has also expanded to an international roster of clients while also teaching at the Danish Design School. His work has been exhibited at fairs in Cologne, London, New York, Milan, Singapore, Stockholm and Tokyo. Through it all, his vision remains highly focused: “Every day, I try to create simple and useful design.”