The Danish company By Lassen makes accessories and furniture designed by two pioneers of functionalism, Mogens Lassen and Flemming Lassen. The designs of the Danish architect brothers are complemented by new products, created with the same geometrical approach.
SØREN LASSEN, the founder and owner of By Lassen, pulls out a large piece of paper and ink when describing the brand’s famous Kubus collection. He quickly fills the paper with perspective drawings of cubes, and sets of figures. It becomes clear that precise space-geometry calculations lie behind this minimalist product collection.
“None of the dimensions are coincidental. All of the products are mathematically interconnected. The original candlestick, whose base is 14 centimeters long, served as the basic dimension. All other dimensions were mathematically derived from this. For example, the subsequent size was based on the diameter of the base cube,” explains Søren Lassen.
“None of the dimensions are coincidental. All of the products are mathematically interconnected.”
The first Kubus, the candleholder, was designed by architect Mogens Lassen in 1962. The Kubus was initially made as a one-off gift for family members, friends and architectural colleagues. Serial production did not begin until the 1990s, under Mogens’ grandson, Søren Lassen. This popular product is now the flagship of the entire By Lassen collection.
How did production of the By Lassen collection begin?
“In the 1990s, I began to manufacture my grandfather's candleholder during quieter periods at my metal company, which was mainly engaged in making parts for high-end German cars.
We founded By Lassen in 2008. Production, which began with the candleholder, has expanded into a larger collection over the years. It is based on small items and furniture designed by my grandfather Mogens and his brother Flemming Lassen, as well as new products that complement them.”
Were Mogens and Flemming Lassen's products mass produced during their lifetime?
“Originally, the furniture in the By Lassen collection was designed for a specific building or furniture exhibition. It was only made in small quantities and never actually mass produced.
In its rare appearances at auctions, original Flemming or Mogens Lassen furniture has fetched top prices. For example, an iconic The Tired Man lounge chair from 1935 was auctioned for around EUR 200,000, an all-time high for Denmark.
“For our collection, we have selected items from the brothers' extensive production.”
For our collection, we have selected items from the brothers' extensive production. When starting our company, we were unaware of how large their archives were. They contained enough papers to fill a container: thousands or rather tens of thousands of drawings. We have chosen a few gems for production, but there's still a lot of material to go through.”
What kinds of designers were the brothers?
“Both knew they wanted to be architects from an early age. They were industrious, skillful drawers, who used their pocket money to buy architecture books. They also managed to enthuse their schoolmate Arne Jacobsen about becoming an architect. All three entered the sector and pioneered the introduction of functionalism in Danish architecture and interior design. They were ahead of their time.”
“The Lassen brothers and Jacobsen pioneered the introduction of functionalism in Danish architecture and interior design.”
In addition to old designs, the By Lassen collection is complemented with new products. Where do the ideas for these come from?
“We strove to create a collection in which new and old products complement each other. The new products pay due respect to the original idea. For example, the new products in the Kubus collection are based on a mathematical approach.
The idea for the Kubus Lolo vase came to me when my wife and I were on a second honeymoon in 2016. We were staying in a holiday cabin in the Oulu region in Finland, where I spent the evenings sketching on the veranda. I wanted to design a vase for my wife's roses.
I initially sketched a flat-bottomed vase, but my wife pointed out that the shape made no sense, since a flat vase would not need a metal cube to support it. So I started to rethink the idea and ended up with a suspended, round-bottomed design. The series was later expanded with the Kubus Flora vase for single flowers and the Kubus flowerpot,” says Søren Lassen.
By Lassen products
Text: Anna-Kaisa Huusko Images: By Lassen