I’ve asked a hand full of talented people to each write a guest post for the blog to keep you entertained while I’m off enjoying life on a white sandy beach in Thailand. Second up is Nadia Lassen.
Nadia Lassen is the director and co-owner of by Lassen. She is also the great-granddaughter of the Danish architect Mogens Lassen. I first met Nadia a couple of years ago and we’ve had many great talks and cups of coffee together since. I have great respect for Nadia and all the hard work she’s put into building a company around the designs of her great-grandfather and his brother. I’ve heard the story of Mogens and Flemming Lassen many times so I wanted to get a new angle on this. I wanted to hear from Nadia, what it was like growing up the great-granddaughter of a talented architect and how she came to build a company around that legacy.
How by Lassen came to be
Dear readers of Rikke’s blog,
Rikke asked me if I would share my story with you, so I hope you will enjoy reading it.
My name is Nadia Lassen, I am 28 years old, and I am the director and co-owner of by Lassen. On a personal note, I am the great-granddaughter of Danish architect Mogens Lassen, and it was in his spirit that I in 2008 founded by Lassen along with my uncle, Søren Lassen.
The starting point for by Lassen was a paper that I wrote the same year while getting my bachelor’s degree. My assignment was to do a paper on exports, and originally I intended to write about the Danish brand Vipp, but they were not able to give me any insight into the business. As my uncle already was producing the Kubus candleholder, I thought that it might be an interesting direction to pursue. At that time, Kubus was relatively unknown in Denmark, and internationally no one other than architects was familiar with Mogens Lassen or Kubus. The unfulfilled potential appealed to me. Mogens Lassen was a major architect of his time, but eventually he was forgotten. As for myself, I barely knew anything about him other than the fact that he was an architect and the father of my beloved grandfather.
Nadia and her uncle Søren in 1986. I don’t think any of them had imagined at this point, that they would end up going into business together!
Here they are years later with Nadia’s daughter Aya in 2011
So I did not grow up in a home where amusing anecdotes were told about Mogens Lassen and his brother Flemming Lassen, nor was I surrounded by their designs. They were primarily architects, and sometimes when they designed a house they were also asked to decorate it. For that reason, there were many unique furniture designs that my family did not have access to. Naturally, we had the Kubus candleholder and the little ML42 stool, and Kubus has always been a ‘family’ candleholder for as long as I can remember.
Mogens Lassen in his study.
When we founded by Lassen I was 23 years old, and I was starting from scratch to say the least. First of all, I’d never run a business before, and I knew nothing about finance, product development, packaging, etc. I also had very little background knowledge of my great-grandfather or of his products. I thought that the first thing I should do was get an overview of his designs, so I contacted the Danish National Art Library, which archives all of Mogens Lassen’s sketches. I asked to be sent all of the sketches so I could copy them, and was told that his sketches would fill a small van, so they questioned whether this really was necessary. Today, the fact that there is such a wealth of sketches is a real gift, and it is fantastic to see that Mogens Lassen sketched every day and always fine-tuned his designs. The old sketches and photos provide me with a unique insight into his life, and a photo of Mogens Lassen, Flemming Lassen and Arne Jacobsen together says more than a thousand words, just as a Christmas card from Kay Bojesen or an old Illums Bolighus receipt does.
In 2012, we at by Lassen decided it was time for version 2.0 of the company, and we also acquired the rights to Flemming Lassen’s designs. And we added a new partner to the owner group, who coincidentally had worked at Vipp, among others. Today, we have created a solid company with unique products and a strong position, and we have grown from 1 employee to no less than 13 dedicated and talented employees. We have also developed and launched a number of new products, including the Frame storage solution, Flow wallpaper, the Mingle sofa and the Twin table. The fact that these products would have a new life more than 30 years after their deaths is something that I don’t think either Mogens or Flemming Lassen could have ever imagined.
The shop in Copenhagen on Holbergsgade.
The shop in Copenhagen as it looks today.
For me, ending up in the design business was a happy coincidence, and today I can’t imagine not being part of this industry. I feel fortunate in that I am privileged to be surrounded every day by beautiful and significant products, and that every day I can delve into the history of two of Denmark’s greatest architects, Mogens and Flemming Lassen. I look forward to going to work every day, and I can’t describe how proud I am when I see ordinary consumers sharing my love for by Lassen products on social media.
Thanks for reading along.
Thank you Nadia. I hope you enjoyed reading Nadia’s story? If you want to see more, Nadia shared her favourite corner and you can read all about the Frame storing solution here. Also; go find Nadia’s personal profile on Instagram under @nadialassen and by Lassen’s under @bylassen.
Did you catch the other guest post this week? Stylist Gitte Christensen of Objects & Use sharing her best styling tips. Stay tuned – there are more guest posts to come this week.
Photos: Nadia Lassen