Marie-Louise Høstbo on the new generation of designers in Denmark

May 9th, 2022
Written by:
Nikolai Kotlarczyk

Marie-Louise Høstbo, Head of Design at Fritz Hansen, is member of The Mindcraft Project’s Curatorial Advisory Board in 2022.

Marie-Louise Høstbo in her office at the Fritz Hansen headquarters in Allerød, Denmark. Photo courtesy of Fritz Hansen.

As the Head of Design for the historical furniture manufacturer Fritz Hansen, Marie-Louise Høstbo reflects a company that blends the historical with the contemporary, the theoretical with a hands-on approach to craft and manufacturing. With a career spanning twenty-five plus years both studying and driving Danish design, her experiences as an architectural practitioner, critical thinker and published author, make her a clear choice to push a company with 150 years of history into a challenging, yet exciting future.

Having graduated with an MA in Architecture from the Royal Danish Academy in the 1990’s, Marie-Louise’s diverse professional career since that time is an example of the Danish architect’s ability to traverse scale and context. From urban planning to buildings, furniture and everyday household items, her research and practice brings with it a multi-faceted approach towards her current role. As shifts in society and environmental practices bring new opportunities for Fritz Hansen, Marie-Louise notes that while many aspects of the company have evolved, their approach remains much the same as the last 150 years;

“At Fritz Hansen, every piece we launch is done so with the outermost aim to have a contemporary relevance – the iconic, historic pieces as well as contemporary designs co-created with the visionary designers of today. Both periods hold a similar approach towards design, and are created through close collaboration between the designer and the departments at Fritz Hansen, from design to product development.”

Clam pendant, designed by Ahm & Lund. Produced by Fritz Hansen. Photo courtesy of Fritz Hansen.

Fritz Hansen has always focused on quality and social relevance over quantity and quick sales. Each year brings only a handful of new releases, with re-issued pieces from the likes of Arne Jacobsen and Vico Magistretti featured alongside some of today’s best up-and-coming and established designers. Recent collaborations with local Danish designers Ahm & Lund, Mette Schelde, and an upcoming collaboration with Kasper Kjeldgaard, demonstrates Fritz Hansen’s – as well as Marie- Louise’s commitment to giving space for this next generation to add to Denmark’s rich design heritage. As she notes, they are more than up to the task;

“The respect of history, of materials and details is currently what strikes me when experiencing the works of the young generation of designers in Denmark. The tendency to search for new solutions in collaboration with others and the eagerness to learn from the past is a great combination to work from.”

Stub side table, designed by Danish architect Mette Schelde. Produced by Fritz Hansen. Photo courtesy of Fritz Hansen.

It is this ability to look into the past, and at the same time the future, that creates a point of focus for all of Marie-Louise’s collaborations. While many historical companies can seem stuck in their ways, Fritz Hansen has always sought out the next generation of designers and collaborators, who are most in touch with the concerns and considerations of today. For this next batch of architects and designers, the environmental impact of mass production, the resourceful and responsible use of materials and manufacturing, and designing for future generations are key components that unite the approach of this group of young practitioners.

“The importance of knowledge must not be neglected, we have to keep learning from history, to challenge it with veneration to move forward in respect. We have an obligation to take care of the world and create beautiful, functional and durable pieces of design which can improve the lives of people and establish a foundation on which we can be able to continue to live on planet earth.”

Joining the curatorial advisory board for the Mindcraft Project 2022, Marie-Louise is excited to share her knowledge and curiosity towards this next generation of Danish designers with a new audience. While her focus will be on shining light on designers that share a passion for creating pieces that contain both a visual and functional longevity, she is also eager to learn from her fellow curators – who together provide three varied approaches to, and interpretations of contemporary Danish design today.