How Hay built a cult home brand

Mette and Rolf Hay have spent the last two decades elevating everyday objects. Here, the husband-and-wife founders discuss how Hay continually pushes boundaries while sticking to its democratic design values

For a long time, the world of interiors was largely reserved for those who could afford to take an interest in it. Fast-forward to today, and our attitudes to how we should fill our homes have been transformed thanks to the accessibility and affordability of brands such as flatpack behemoth Ikea, along with the deluge of design inspo regularly served up on social by the likes of estate agent/design journal The Modern House.

Founded by husband-and-wife team Rolf and Mette Hay, over the last two decades Hay has built something of a cult following for its elevated approach to designing everyday objects. Alongside its own stores around the world, the brand has become a regular feature everywhere from the MoMA Design Store through to high-end restaurants and hotels. It’s also collaborated with big-name brands ranging from Cos to Sonos and was even the subject of a monograph published by Phaidon to mark its 20th anniversary in 2022.

While Hay has undoubtedly played a big part in shifting perceptions of home brands, Rolf recalls that the seeds were already planted when he was starting out in his design career in the mid-90s. “The interesting thing was, if you came to Korea or if you came to Copenhagen, we were freaking out about the same things and that was different to our parents’ generation. The internet came along but it was also Blueprint and Wallpaper*, these international design magazines, that started to create a global agenda,” he tells CR.

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