Danish design brand Sibast Furniture takes pride in carrying on the Sibast family’s design legacy with relaunches of Helge Sibast’s classic designs, manufactured in Denmark. We talked with Anna Sibast about craftsmanship and bringing the Sibast family’s design heritage to a new century.
THE STORY OF SIBAST FURNITURE dates back to 1908 when Peder Olsen Sibast established a small carpenter’s workshop in the Danish countryside. Later, his son Helge Sibast, a skilled carpenter and a designer himself, took over his father’s business.
He led the company to international success in the 1960s by collaborating with renowned Danish designer Arne Vodder. For some time, the company was passed out of the family's hands, but the copyrights to Helge Sibast’s designs remained within the Sibast family. In 2012, Ditlev and Anna Sibast, Helge Sibast’s grandson and his wife, relaunched Sibast Furniture, bringing the designs and the family’s heritage back to life.
Even if less known today, Sibast was one of the mid-century champions of Danish design. Is there something that makes the company different from others?
Anna Sibast: “I think what differentiates us from many is the design heritage within our own family. Sibast is a family driven company, and making furniture is our passion. As our family name is put on the furniture, it is very important for us to carry on the design legacy with integrity and high-quality craftsmanship just as we did back in the ’50s and ’60s.”
“Sibast is a family driven company, and making furniture is our passion. We carry on the design legacy with integrity and high-quality craftsmanship.”
What is the secret behind the fine details of Sibast Furniture?
“This comes back to craftsmanship. Helge Sibast was both a furniture designer and a skilled carpenter. He actually crafted his own designs, spending several hours in the workshop and working with wood in different and often innovative ways. For example, the way the backrest of the Sibast No 7 chair is bent challenged the understanding and use of wood. Our attention to detail in the craft is the same today.
The design details of Sibast Furniture are rather unique. Our designs look contemporary – even if they are from the ’50s, they just as well could have been designed yesterday. This is the essence of timeless design. Good design is timeless both in terms of quality and in terms of form: it’s something that was good 50 years ago and will be for the next 50 years to come. Functionality is also very important to us. A chair has to feel nice when you sit on it, having dinner with your family, for example.”
Sibast was an active furniture manufacturer with many designs in the ’50s and ’60s. How did you choose which designs to relaunch?
“Indeed, Sibast was very well known for quality carpentry, and, back in the day, Sibast Furniture pieces were even delivered to the White House in the United States and to the Pope in Rome. Selecting what to relaunch is an art, and it must fulfill our principles of high-quality craft and timeless design. As Helge Sibast’s design was very timeless, the current ones are certainly not the last designs we are relaunching. We are thankful to be able to pass on our passion and family design heritage to new generations.”
“Back in the day, Sibast Furniture pieces were even delivered to the White House in the United States and to the Pope in Rome.”
A chair should never be hidden under a table – this was one of Helge Sibast’s principles. What does this mean and how is it reflected in his designs?
“Uniqueness was very important for Helge and we continue to cherish this idea today. One of his most iconic designs is the Sibast No 8 chair. When a design is unique like this, it needs to have space around it to give room for the playfulness that lies within the design, the new and different experiences and impressions you get every time you turn it and look at it at another angle. If a table next to it is very voluminous, you will not be able to notice all the chair’s details. This is why the table needs to be rather minimalistic, as the Sibast No 2 dining table.”
Along with the original designs, your collection consists of new interpretations of them, like the Sibast No 7 bar stool and the Sibast No 7 lounge chair. How were they born?
“Having the uttermost respect for our history and the Danish Modern movement, we also want to challenge the ways of working with the designs and to bring our heritage to a new century. When a certain design is iconic, you wouldn’t really want to change it. But the ways of living have changed.
Today, people want to spend more of their often-limited time together with their family and friends. For example, many have a bar top and chairs in the kitchen so they can talk with their kids or friends while cooking. For us, it is important to support these values, so we designed a bar chair that is comfortable to sit on for hours. The new designs have been made by scaling up the original Sibast No 7 chair designed in 1953.”
Do you have many Sibast originals at your own home?
“We have both Sibast originals and also furniture from Arne Vodder, a well-known furniture architect from the Danish Modern movement and a good friend of our family for over twenty years. These pieces of furniture are mixed with contemporary designs. We have carefully chosen high-quality furniture that is timeless and durable – furniture that tells you a story and takes into account sustainability and the environment. This is also why Sibast chairs are made of wood from sustainable forestry.”
“We are so fortunate that today, Sibast Furniture designs are used in several Michelin star restaurants.”
So, White House in the past – where would you like to see Sibast furniture today?
“We are so fortunate that today, our furniture is used in several Michelin star restaurants. Every time a restaurant like this is interested in our furniture, it is a great honor for us.
We believe that chefs and architects bringing a restaurant to a Michelin star quality level want to give the best to their customers: not only top quality food, but also surroundings that support their passion – a complete dining experience. They don’t pick just any item. Therefore, we are very honored when they choose Sibast Furniture. This makes us believe that our furniture is cherished for the values we believe in and the values we want to bring forward from our design heritage.”
Chairs from Sibast
It’s possible to order any product from the Sibast collection though it’s not currently available in our online store. Please contact Finnish Design Shop's Customer Service for more information.
Text: Taina Ahtela Images: Sibast