An interview with Strand & Hvass

The Four®Cast’2 range and the new FourSure 99 & FourSure 11 are set to be as popular as the existing members of the Four Family . But who are the dynamic Danish pair behind the designs? We got to ask Strand & Hvass exactly what their inspirations, process and ideas were all about.

How did you both meet?

The short version is that we met at the Danish Design school 24 years ago but it was in 1997 we first started to work together.

How did you get into design?

Niels: When I was a child I could never stop creating new things, so I never stopped!

Christina: Since I was very little I was interested in beautiful furniture. Before becoming a teen I knew I wanted to apply to the Danish Design School, Furniture Department.

What does innovation mean to you?

For us, innovation can be in the detail. To rethink and improve well-known products with small, but important innovations are something we aim for. As humans, we can always do better. It is important to recycle, to save materials and energy in production, to take better care of our planet in general. We have to do better, especially environmentally - that is what innovation means to us.

For us, good design contains small innovations, environmentally considered, but retaining its attractiveness and longevity.

How did the Four®Cast’2 range come together?

Early in our collaboration Four asked us to create a new, full-shell veneer chair and a folding table range for the conference and canteen market. Our goal was to make the comfiest chair out of a full-shell veneer and an ”easy to handle” folding table collection. A lot of experiments in bending veneer occurred. We wanted to achieve the impossible, to curve the back and the seat simultaneously for the highest comfort. This isn’t normally possible, but using our geometric knowledge (and a little magic!) we made it possible. The final result was a really comfortable chair, with a strong V- shape that created a unique character – something important for recognition in the saturated chair market. Realising this, we knew we were on the right track and, standing with something unique in our hands, Four asked us to develop a whole family, the Four®Sure and Four®Cast collection. Our constant search for improvement realised Four®Cast’2.

Talk us through your design process?

It is very important for us to start our design process understanding the end users situation, the DNA in production. When we start working we ask a lot of questions, even the stupid ones! Often the key to a good idea is hidden behind all of our assumptions.

Once the questions are asked, we make lots of models to clarify the basic idea. The design idea has to capture all demands that can appear. A new design is almost like composing a piece of music, one shape creates the next. It is a composition of shapes. In the case of the FourCast chairs, we folded cardboard and aluminium shells to test the comfort and shape possibilities before appropriating the veneer. Later we made the plastic version. Our goal? To increase the comfort by using the most flexible materials and benefit from new possibilities. Then armrest, linking device, column base, upholstery etc, that enabled a consistency between the Four Cast and Four Sure family, making the family wider with fewer components.

What is the most innovative design you have seen?

At the moment, it’s got to be the Tesla model S – a very different way of thinking cars.

Who and what are your main inspirations?

Our Scandinavian nature and our democratic lifestyle. Of course, we are marked by the Danish furniture masters from the fifties and sixties. But we are always in search of inspiration that we find from nature, travelling and meeting other cultures.

And, the future?

Continue to ever-evolve the Four concept.