Bolia works with designers across the world to make its feelgood modern furniture, each piece united by the fundamentals of Scandinavian design
When CEO Lars Lyse Hansen arrived at Bolia in 2005, the Danish company was a small but distinctive presence in the furniture market. Now, it has a major international presence, with 800 employees doing business in more than 50 countries, providing furniture made by hand and created by leading designers from around the world who each bring their own perspective to Scandinavian design principles. “I clearly remember my first day, when Bolia was a very small start-up company with only ten colleagues at the head office,” says Lars Lyse. “I thought to myself, ‘This amazing gem is going to be big’. And now, more than 17 years later, I still have this exact same reflection when I come to work. We still have such an amazing potential for further global development.”
Lars Lyse defines Scandinavian design as “a lovely conglomeration of simplicity, honest materials, craftmanship, function, beauty and sustainable considerations.” Bolia prioritises sustainability and craftsmanship, employing an international team of designers – more than 75 per cent from outside Scandinavia – whose diverse interpretations of Scandinavian design concepts result in creations such as the Elton sofa designed by fellow Danes Glismand & Rüdiger, the Cosima modular sofa by kaschkasch and the Graceful dining table by Michael H Nielsen. Everything is made to order using the finest and most natural materials available.
“We and our designers are inspired by nature,” says Lars Lyse. “We make sure the raw materials are natural, prime quality, low impact and as local and traceable as possible. We love working with luscious solid oak, walnut and ash – natural, oiled or stained – and soothing fabrics such as linen, bouclé, wool, velvet or chunky woven fabrics. All furniture leathers are the world’s finest quality but are also certified and traceable, securing transparency and animal welfare. We love using brass and untreated, stainless or lacquered steel to create beautiful contrasts with natural stones, such as Italian marble and travertine, or polished concrete. We use natural materials such as hemp, cork and the lovely paper braid as a clear reference to our Scandinavian heritage and craftsmanship.”
Bolia holds an annual Bolia Design Awards to support and celebrate new designers, something that has resulted in the creation of some of the company’s most popular pieces, such as the Latch coffee table series designed by Singapore’s Dazingfeelsgood. It also teamed up with US-based Steelcase, the world’s largest office furniture company, to develop an exclusive collection for inspiring, flexible, sustainable and people-centric workspaces.
Bolia’s thoughtful stores encapsulate the overall experience. Each one is designed to evoke the five senses – there is even an in-store fragrance – while retaining a local feel, so they are relevant to their community. They are housed in beautiful buildings that Bolia restores with a passion to reveal their history, identity and authenticity.
Whether in-store or online, customers will find the same excellent products – made with cleverness and simplicity, uniqueness and the Bolia identity, from the choice of materials to tactility and longevity. Each design is a natural part of the complete collection. “It’s also about commerciality and the possibility for developing a single design into a future design family,” says Lars Lyse. “At Bolia, we believe great design is not only what meets the eye; just as importantly, it is how it is created – and the way it makes us feel.”