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”See you in Fredericia!”
This quickly became known as the catch phrase for the furniture industry, when the small Western Danish industrial town of Fredericia provided the setting for Denmark's international furniture exhibition. So it was no coincidence that Ravnsø chose Fredericia for his venture. At the time, it played host to the Nordic International Furniture Exhibition, aka ‘The Fair’, the first being held 1910. Until 1983, Fredericia was the venue for the fair, in which manufacturers presented a wide range of Danish design to be developed throughout mid-century.
Fredericia Furniture was established in 1911 as ”Fredericia Stolefabrik” (Fredericia Chair Factory), by entrepreneur N. P. Ravnsø, who successfully led the venture until his death in 1936. From the very start, Ravnsø wanted his new venture to be known for extremely high quality, and throughout his tenure, he hired only the most skilled craftsmen – something that quickly lead Fredericia Stolefabrik to become renown for its high quality furniture in various styles. The Ravnsø family owned and operated Fredericia Stolefabrik until 1955.
The first luxury collection of Fredericia’s was based on methodologies fashionable in 1920’s Denmark, namely historic Central European and English style furniture. Meanwhile in Copenhagen, professor Kaare Klint was forming the basis for a new Danish School of design.
In the 1940´s under the leadership of Børge Mogensen, the Danish Coop FDB initiated a furniture programme to renew Danish furniture culture and create modern, functional and useful furniture that would be affordable for all social classes. Mogensen and his friend Hans J. Wegner designed a number of furniture for the programme. It was there, at ”FDB Møbler” that interior architect Andreas Graversen, who would later become Fredericia’s CEO, made his first acquaintances with Mogensen.
In 1955, Andreas Graversen acquired Fredericia Stolefabrik. He was encouraged to do so by the town bank, as the factory was on the verge of bankruptcy. The only condition Graversen insisted upon was that production of furniture would be restructured in collaboration with Børge Mogensen. Graversen loved Mogensen’s furniture, which he often described as "unpretentious, pure and honest."
Andreas Graversen and Børge Mogensen's collaboration was fuelled by fiery temperaments and they didn't always agree. However, they had a mutual belief that aesthetically pleasing furniture could be produced in rationalised industrial production. They also agreed that, first and foremost, furniture should live up to the demands of everyday use, and withstand a lifetime of use. Neither man was satisfied if a piece of furniture did not live up to these demands.
Even though sparks would often fly when the businessman and designer crossed words, the relationship between Andreas Graversen and Børge Mogensen endured. They cemented a close friendship based on mutual respect, and together they created incredibly iconic furniture drawn by Mogensen’s hand. In 1971 their mutual efforts were rewarded when they received The Danish Furniture Prize together.
In the late 1980s, as Thomas Graversen, son of Andreas Graversen became more involved in the family business. He began collaborating with Nanna Ditzel, marking a new design direction for Fredericia. Nanna Ditzel, also known as the “Queen of Danish Design” had made herself known in the 1950's and 1960's with her radically experimental types of furniture made of foam, plastic and wickerwork as well as her jewellery and textile designs.
Thomas Graversen, educated at the important Danish furniture gallery “Den Permanente”, was keen to work with Ditzel, who represented a less dogmatic approach to furniture design in comparison to that of his father, Andreas Graversen. The collaboration became a reality in 1989 with ‘Bench for Two’, an avant-garde design made from aeroplane veneer and silkscreening.
The innovative use of materials propelled the bench ahead of 472 other competitors to win one of the most highly acclaimed design prizes in Japan.
Today Fredericia Furniture stille guide it self by the the heritage of unfaltering dedication to the perfection and progression of the design to create and deliver a collection that Fredericia Furniture believe will be the modern originals of tomorrow. Simple principles that honour outstanding quality through a careful selection of materials, functionality and attention to detail.