Mette Hay on curating HAY Accessories: “Most of it is instinct”

HAY co-founder Mette Hay is the creative director of HAY Accessories and responsible for curating the accessory selection with her team. In Design Stories’ interview, she talks about the aspects that make the task challenging and the ones that make it so rewarding – and also reveals her current favorite HAY product.

Hay Accessories
The HAY Accessories collection consists of a variety of product ranging from tableware and home textiles to simply decorative items, such as vases.

DURING THE PAST FEW YEARS, many of us have been spending more time at home than ever before. Consequently, many have been wanting to spruce up their living quarters by painting the walls in a new color or decorating with fun accessories that offer an easy way of updating the home. For the latter, many might turn to the Danish brand HAY, whose cheerful colors and playful shapes are guaranteed to put a smile on anyone's face.

The HAY Accessories collection is curated by co-founder and creative director, Mette Hay – her husband Rolf Hay is in charge of the brand’s furniture. Even the smallest accessories have a surprisingly big impact on the atmosphere of your home, especially now that we have been spending so much time there, and deciding on new items isn’t always quite that simple.

We talked with Mette Hay about what needs to be considered when planning the range.

Mette Hay
The accessories are curated by Mette Hay, who has been involved with the brand since the very beginning.

Hi Mette, how have you been?
“We have been safe and healthy, thank you, and there are currently many things I am thankful for: I am truly amazed by how we at HAY have remained close throughout the past years, despite of more physical distance than we’re used to. That made me realize that one of the character traits of HAY as a company, and something that each and everyone of our employees around the world has in them is to think creatively, finding new ways of doing things. All of us have learned a tremendous amount these past months, and there are many learnings we’ll take with us looking forward.

That being said, I have missed the energy we give to each other when being together physically, I have missed visiting our clients and suppliers – the exchange and contact with everyone we work with at and outside of HAY are pure motivation for me.”

What kind of things does your work entail?
“As co-founder and creative director of the HAY accessories collection, my work is very diverse, which I love. Being a co-founder means to be involved in many strategic decisions, and in shaping the direction of HAY as a brand. In my role as creative director for HAY accessories, I am responsible of curating and developing our accessories collection together with my team, allowing me to work with incredible designers around the world.”

Hay Sowden kettle
British designer George Sowden has designed a selection of kitchenware for the brand.
Hay Accessories
Unlike many other Nordic brands, HAY's accessories come in cheerful, varied hues – but they have not forgotten fans of more subdued tones, either.
Hay Accessories
Tableware and kitchenware first entered the collection in 2017 under the name HAY Kitchen Market. Pictured, a classic tumbler and the colorful Sip Spiral straw.

How are HAY Accessories curated? What makes a product fit the HAY style?
“There are many different forces at work, and they can change from project to project, but I’d say it’s a mix of gut feeling and awareness of market needs – we are always in close contact with our retailers and try to listen to them. But most of it is instinct: In many cases, I’d see something that inspires me that will then turn into a product idea, and that’s where it starts.”

“Curating is a mix of gut feeling and awareness of market needs.”

Many of us are still working from home at least from time to time. Aside from having our laptops at home, do you think the current situation has had an effect on how we decorate our homes?
“I’ve always said that to me, a beautiful home is a home you enjoy living in – due to the fact that most people have spent significantly more time at home than usual, it is my impression that the bar has risen in terms of what we expect from a home in order to be enjoyable, leading to interiors playing a much more important role than before.”

Mette Hay
Mette's own home is a mix of HAY products, vintage treasures and souvenirs.
Hay Bead basket
Handcrafted in Nepal, HAY's Bead baskets consist of hundreds of hand-rolled felt spheres.
Hay Perla phone holder
The collection not only includes home accessories but also other kinds of accessories, like the Perla phone holder designed by Ana Kraš.
Kyoto Tango for HAY bracelet
The multicolored bracelets were created in collaboration with Danish brand Kyoto Tango. The jewelry is made in Denmark.

Has the situation affected how HAY Accessories are curated?
“Our approach has largely remained the same, including our seeking to anticipate our customers’ potential needs to a certain extent. A good example of that is the HAY PLAY boardgame collection that was conceived by the wonderful Clara von Zweigbergk.”

What does your own home look like?
“Our family lives in an old house designed by architect Kay Fisker in 1929, and its very architecture sets somewhat of a basic tone. Our interior style is a colorful mix of HAY designs, including prototypes of products that are in the development phase still, alongside many vintage pieces and lots of souvenirs from travels, and you would also notice that Rolf and I share a passion for art. Lastly, our home is a reflection of the people living in it: You can see that we have two children, and that we love to have guests over.”

Hay pouf
The plush Pouf is available in a range of delicious colors.
Hay Door mat
The collection also includes rugs and other textiles. The two-toned doormats belong to the spring 2021 new arrivals.
Hay Chim Chim scent diffuser
The Chim Chim scent diffuser lantern creates a calm atmosphere and a pleasant scent in a bathroom, for example.
Hay Accessories
There are many products suitable for the bathroom in HAY's selection, such as the Giant Waffle towels.

Is there a current trend you find particularly interesting, personally or workwise?
“The thing with trends is that it is not an easy exercise to foresee them – sometimes our gut feeling about how a new design will be received would be spot on, but just as often we are surprised, and almost always it’s different factors beyond our control that make a certain product popular. We were definitely blown away by the success of our twisted candles, for example.

On a more general note, we are currently very invested in integrating the aspect of sustainability in the development of our designs, which we feel is an obligation rather than a trend – it’s a complex task but it is very important for both Rolf and I, and our respective teams.”

“Sometimes our gut feeling about how a new design will be received would be spot on, but just as often we are surprised.”

Do you have a favorite product among the HAY Accessories collection?
“Whenever I get asked this question I want to say that my favorite product is probably always the one I am currently developing – but then it’ll take quite some time until that product comes to life. Apart from that, it’s almost impossible to pick a favorite, but I currently enjoy using our collection of colorful, handmade glass spoons a lot: They add a splash of color to the smallest everyday rituals such as adding salt to your favorite dish.”

HAY favorites

Laundry basket
Spiral candles
Shade Bin
Watering can
Botanical Family pot
Colour crate
Dot cushion
Bead basket

See also:

All products by HAY >

Text: Emmi Ratilainen Images: HAY

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