Designtheorie | Wilkhahn – A tradition of the cutting edge
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Wilkhahn – A tradition of the cutting edge

21 Aug Wilkhahn – A tradition of the cutting edge

by Brigitte Wolf, (Design Management Journal, Spring 2002)

Under the personal leadership of Fritz Hahne,Wilkhahn has created a niche for itself and earned a global reputation for designing high-quality, classically modern furniture that is both elegant and functional. In a rich overview of this German firm, Brigitte Wolf explores the business objectives, the work ethic, the design principles, the social and environmental values and, of course, the products and architecture that are the hallmark of this remarkable company. “I don’t want to react to the market— I want to create the market,” was one of Fritz Hahne’s business principles. And that is what he did as the leader of Wilkhahn AG for 40-odd years and what he continues to do as the honorary president of the company’s board of directors. It was his joy to initiate the pioneering projects that are Wilkhahn’s trademark, and his task to define the research and development objectives that helped the company set the standard for high-design office furniture. Now 80 years old, Hahne looks back on a life spent in the vanguard of design, and smiles.

Company origins

Founded in 1907 by Friedrich Hahne and Christian Wilkening,Wilkhahn started out as a small carpentry near Hanover, Germany. Like many others in that region, the company’s main product was chairs made from the beech wood of the local forests. World War II, however, forced the company to close, and it was not reopened until the founders’ sons, Fritz Hahne and Adolf Wilkening, took up the reins. Wilkening was an expert in construction and technology and a whiz at production, but Fritz Hahne truly shaped the company. His respect for aesthetics, as well as functionality, made it easy for him to differentiate his company from its competitors. He is known for a certain amount of self-doubt, which has driven him to look always for a better argument— to let the company’s philosophy grow slowly. He is also fond of saying: … read the complete article here >>