How Mon­tana brought colour and in­no­va­tion to stor­age de­sign

From one ahead-of-its-time stor­age sys­tem, this firm has built a rep­u­ta­tion for of­fer­ing in­no­va­tive and bright de­signs

ELLE Decoration (UK) - - Contents -

Founder of Dan­ish fur­ni­ture brand Mon­tana, Peter J Lassen – who since the late 1950s worked as head of prod­uct and de­vel­op­ment, and then later as CEO of Fritz Hansen – is and al­ways has been a for­ward-think­ing man. In 1974, he no­ticed a shift from the dec­o­ra­tive style of ar­chi­tec­ture and de­sign to a more pared-back aesthetic, and cre­ated a piece to chime with this mood: the ‘Sys­tem 60/60’. The shelv­ing unit’s name refers to the size of the boxes that form it. At the time, it was crafted from solid pine and de­liv­ered to cus­tomers as a flat pack. This turned out to be im­prac­ti­cal – or per­haps ahead of its time – and was dis­con­tin­ued a few years later.

How­ever, Lassen knew that he was on to some­thing, and when Fritz Hansen was sold in 1979, he left and bought back the rights to the sys­tem. It formed the ba­sis for his new com­pany Mon­tana, which launched in 1982.

‘As a sculp­tor starts with an ab­stract stone, I be­gan with an ab­stract square box,’ he says. ‘I re­moved all the un­nec­es­sary parts so that it featured rounded edges, missing cor­ners and re­tracted fronts.’ He be­gan man­u­fac­tur­ing in MDF, a brand-new ma­te­rial at the time, mak­ing the sys­tem more light­weight.

In 2015, Peter J Lassen’s son Joakim took con­trol of the firm, ex­pand­ing its world­wide sales and its of­fer­ing. Ta­bles and chairs by Stefan Wew­erka, Sch­midt Ham­mer Lassen De­sign, Arne Ja­cob­sen and Salto & Sigs­gaard, as well as the ‘Mon­tana Free’ sys­tem by Jakob Wag­ner, were added.

This year, how­ever, is all about Lassen’s close friend Verner Pan­ton. A new take on the ‘Pan­ton One’ chair, with a seat wo­ven from pa­per string, will be fol­lowed by even more up­dates of the late de­signer’s pieces, due to launch at the Mi­lan fur­ni­ture fair in April. mon­tana­fur­ni­

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