All about color and joy from the get-go, Montana Furniture turns 40 this year. Joakim Lassen, CEO of the Danish company known for storage furniture, tells Design Stories that versatility and a curated color palette are still at the heart of the business. He also reveals his favorite places in Copenhagen.
THE STORY OF Montana Furniture, a Danish furniture brand that adds color and playfulness to the world, began in 1982. This year, the company founded by Peter J. Lassen is celebrating its 40th anniversary and has expanded its product range to all areas of the home from the kitchen to the bathroom over the decades.
At the center is the Montana Mini storage system, designed by the founder himself, with numerous parts and color options to create thousands of different entities for all kinds of homes and needs.
The common denominators of Montana’s products are modularity and versatility – and joyful colors. In an interview with Design Stories, we got to ask the current CEO Joakim Lassen more about Montana Furniture’s past as well as the present.
Hi Joakim! Your family has a long history of working with furniture. Was it an obvious choice for you to continue the tradition?
“Fritz Hansen was my great-granddad, and as a young boy, I spent a lot of time at the Fritz Hansen furniture factory in Allerød. However, It took me many years to realize that I wanted to work in this line of business. At first, I didn’t want to take the same path within furniture as my father, so I took a master’s degree in Human Geography from Copenhagen University.
Years later, in 1999, I founded my own company, Djob, and started to design and manufacture tables for the contract market. Djob was merged with Montana Furniture in 2009, and I became managing director in 2015.”
Montana was founded at the beginning of the 1980s. How has the company adjusted to the modern demands of the 2020s?
“We are constantly striving to improve and do better for our planet. But actually, it is not a new thing. More than 25 years ago, we introduced our own set of environmental accounts in consultation with The Danish Environmental Protection Agency. After I graduated, I worked as an environmental consultant. Sustainability and projects connected to improving the production in this direction have been my darling from the beginning.”
“I’m proud of the fact that in 2019, Montana was certified with the EU Eco Label, which means that all aspects of the product lifecycle are carefully optimized. 95% of our products are certified with this label.”
How would you describe Montana as a company, and what kind of values do you hold dear?
“Montana is a growing company that fortunately still feels small in the sense that we like to think of ourselves as a family. We manufacture the Montana System in our production facilities in Haarby, Denmark. We employ around 190 people, and we are present in many markets.
Our mission is more important than size and growth, though. We want to create playful spaces through colors and possibilities. We believe that our surroundings impact us as beings and that our interiors should reinforce the positive and playful aspects of life.”
A vast yet well-curated color palette is clearly an important asset of Montana’s world. Can you tell us how the color selection has been created?
“Montana embraces an extensive palette, that has been part of the brand since the beginning. In 2019, we had the palette redesigned by textile designer and color expert, Margrethe Odgaard. She believes, as well as we do, that colors, textures, and everything that stimulates our minds in subtle ways can help us de-stress and thereby increase our wellbeing.
“The colors in our palette are carefully adjusted to one another, and each of them has a depth and complexity to them.”
For whom is Montana’s furniture designed?
“It’s for people who love colors and the freedom to express themselves. Montana is in its essence a system design that allows great freedom of expression. Montana can grow and evolve with you in all of life’s different stages. It’s not a static and defined thing you purchase, as life is not static and defined.”
We always love to hear about how people live. Can you tell us a little about your home?
“I live in an apartment in the center of Copenhagen with my wife and our youngest daughter. Our neighborhood feels like a small village in the midst of Copenhagen. I’ve lived in this building for more than 30 years, and I know my neighbors well. I have a 5-minute walk to work.
At home, we love to surround ourselves with a mix of heirlooms and art pieces. My other great-granddad was the golden age painter, P. C. Skovgaard, and both of his sons were also artists. I have some of his works, but I have also acquired new pieces – one of Che Guevara on his death bed by Marco Evaristti for instance.”
And last, could you reveal to us your favorite places in Copenhagen?
“First off, Thorvaldsens Museum – it is the color temple of Copenhagen. Second, Copenhagen Contemporary in Refshaleøen. The whole area is worth a visit. The vibe is experimental, expressive, and creative.
In my street, Fiolstræde, there are lots of cozy bookshop cafés where students gather with their group assignments and surround themselves with books and the scent of coffee. I walk past them a lot, and it looks so cozy – the epitome of Danish hygge – that I feel obligated to pass on the tip: if you're visiting, do take the time to pop by Paludan Bog og Café, Den Franske Bogcafé, and Brøg Litteraturbar.”
Favorites from Montana
Text: Hanna-Katariina Mononen Images: Montana Furniture