INTERVIEWEE：Kim Bukbjerg Fiedler, director of HAY Asia Pacific
INTERVIEWER：Isa Ye, founder of Youngbirplan
“We ensure HAY’s products are affordable to customers, and we believe it’s also the principle guide line of HAY.”
—— Kim B. Fiedler, director of HAY Asia Pacific
Isa Ye: HAY is a young brand, but it is experienced in design, technology and other aspects. So could you please give us a brief introduction of its background?
Kim Fiedler: HAY is a young brand compared to a lot of other European brands, which was established in 2002 by a Danish couple Rolf Hay and Mette Hay who are now creative directors respectively for furniture and accessories. HAY is committed to providing original and innovative design ideas to both market and customers. Meanwhile, HAY is positioned as an affordable luxury brand. So we made a reasonable and overall price list to ensure HAY’s products are affordable to customers, and we believe it’s also the principle guide line of HAY.
Isa Ye: Would you like to share more about HAY’s price position in the Chinese market?
Kim Fiedler:Well. We can compare with COS, a fashion brand. Though it is well designed with high-quality raw materials and pleasing appearance. So this is how we stand out, relatively lower price with good design and high quality.
HAY cooperates with designers all over the world, including some famous designers who also design for high-end brands. But I think our price is the DNA of HAY and is competitive among other brands, as in China the price is the sameas and even lower than in Europe.
When we move into China we think it’s important that our DNA is that we want to be affordable. After all, we want to have a nice quality product and then we can sell to our customers and make more people know HAY.
Isa Ye: HAY always likes to do something interesting and innovative, such as co-branding.Over the past years, HAY has cooperated with Sonos, a wireless audio manufacturer and COS, a fashion brand. So what will be considered when HAY chooses its partners?
Kim Fiedler: Cooperating with Sonos is a decision made by Mette, so it is difficult for me to give a whole picture. But Sonos actually asked Mette Hay to choose some colors for their speakers. And Mette Hay, she doesn’t think that should be one color because they were different things which could be applied for various scenes including kitchens, living rooms, bathrooms and study rooms. So that’s why they ended up being five colors. And we think it was a good opportunity for both companies to promote interesting events.
◤ Audio cobranded with Sonos
We also cooperated with COS by decorating its seasonal show windows. We are willing to cooperate with local brands as HAY itself is an innovative furniture brand. Sometimes, we plan a series of events in different modes together with fashion brands and art galleries to promote our brands.
A part from that, we opened the only cafe in the world called HAY Cafe in Tokyo. Many products displayed in the cafe are selected from kitchen series of HAY by Mette and Frederik who owns a Michelin starred restaurant and a cafe.
◤HAY Store in Tokyo
Isa Ye: At present, HAY is positioned as a simple furniture and accessories brand with both functionality and art. So after over ten years’ market experience, what kind of products do you think are popular in this industry? And why?
Kim Fiedler: Of course the original products. We create original products which can adjust to various scenes. Let’s take this basic plastic chair as an example. People can choose this chair with different materials, patterns and colors, which means one chair may be applied for different scenes. If put it outside, people can choose the chair made of plastic; if put it in the dining room, fabric material is preferred and many other styles or raw materials can be chosen whatever people put it in the bedroom, living room or office.
◤About Collection （the 3rd picture above）and Palissade
We’ve learnt many companies and teams focused on only commercial products or only home furniture products. However our products are made in between, which apply for commercial scenes, offices and house hold.
Besides,our design is simple with multiple functions. In our exhibition hall, it is an interesting experience for most customers to discover hidden functions of products.
◤HAY Store in China
I like Revolver Bar Stool most because it’s actually very simple, but when you look at it, you will find various hidden functions. It’s not just like a normal product but will surprise you with its innovation. Have a look at this bar stool, and it can spin randomly and can be put anywhere.
◤Revolver Bar Stool
” We hope to bring more choices to Chinese families, which is to say, give them more products to select and make their life better.”
—— Kim B. Fiedler, director of HAY Asia Pacific
Isa Ye: HAY developed fast in the Chinese market between 2016 and 2017. The number of stores in China even exceeds that in Denmark. Based on the perception of the Chinese market, can you analyze above phenomenon? Has HAY made any adjustments to the Chinese market in terms of design?
Kim Fiedler:I can be very proud to say that we develop faster in China than in European countries, as the population in Denmark is only one fourth of in Shanghai and I think population is vital to market demands. However, there are so many Chinese companies who are so extremely faster and we are maybe just a small baby compared to them.
Probably we’re here in China so we see China as our home market. However, whether you go into a HAY Store in Denmark or in China, you basically see the same collection.As we all know, some of the products sells better in different regions. You know, for instance, give a good example for cushions. Cushions in Scandinavian sells so fast because this is the way people live, and they need to buy cushions for sofas, but this is not such a common thing in China to buy cushions for sofas with colors. Maybe you do, but in reality, it’s not a lot of people doing this. So of course, in this way, there will be differences when products are sold in different stores.
Of course, we look into trying to adapt. Obviously, we learn more about Denmark market and know the lifestyle of local people, so our products cater to local market. But now that we come to China, we will consider what kind of products adjust to China. And how can we change this, maybe the size, color or raw material of products to open Chinese market.
Isa Ye: What do you think of the opportunity brought about by consumption upgrading?
Kim Fiedler: This is basically what we do every day. And I think it’s the same pattern all over the world. When you don’t have budgets or it’s a little bit tight, you will find a product just to live. And when people get a little bit more money, they will be able to buy something that they have more feeling for them, probably more design programs. Based on that, we will design some products to meet their demands and build a better brand image.
We can see a lot of the people coming into our stores who may graduate from school, get married or move their house and buy things for their new home. And we try to constantly make a lot of new products to meet people’s requirement in their different life period. HAY promotes new products weekly and monthly, so you will find fresh products each time you enter into HAY stores and will have more choices.
Isa Ye: What is the planning of HAY and its products in the Chinese market in the following five years?
Kim Fiedler：We are now in the key period of development, so we need to keep new, do new things, and establish new cooperations. Based on that, we will further consider how to cater to Chinese market. In the future, we will learn more about the lifestyle and living habbits of a Chinese family so that we will create more products with Chinese characteristics. We hope to bring more choices to Chinese families.
◤HAY Kitchen Accessories
Isa Ye: Muneaki Masuda, founder of Japanese Tsutaya Books, said that in the future, companies that can survive must have the ability to design and with life experience. So how can HAY stands out among so many furniture brands from Northern Europe and what’s the difference between HAY and other brands?
Kim Fiedler：I think HAY is a very strong design company and I think HAY will be the key driver in the industry. You know, HAY has great directors for furniture and accessories. And I think that they have always been ones who somehow look ahead with design passion in the future. And of course, this is how HAY came to ways today in quite a few years and will be what’s going to drive HAY forward for the next many years.
It’s very difficult to tell the fundamental difference between HAY and other brands,because many designers who work for HAY also cooperate with other brands. We also partner with some emerging and talented designers to introduce fresh blood into our brand. However I think we have a quite clear brand DNA and this is a good path that we own. We want to follow this DNA of HAY. Make nice product for a good price.
Isa Ye: In the Asia-Pacific region, HAY has set up a design studio. What’s it going now? In the future, what role will the studio play in the overall development of the Asia-Pacific region?
Kim Fiedler：For HAY, it’s about making a local adaption. we don’t want to change HAY or simple change its color, but to make them fit even better into the way of a Chinese.
Scandinavian lifestyle is a little bit different from Chinese lifestyle. You know, and think to live in big cities like Shanghai, Beijing, Tianjin, it’s a very different lifestyle from other cities. So it’s not as simple as making a five-year plan and try to get it. We prefer to cooperate with local enterprises to learn more about local demands. We are willing to see HAY’s products fit local market even better.
◤Rebar marble tea table /side table
Though HAY comes from Denmark with its unique DNA, it brings you the same feeling even you go to different stores in different regions.
Isa Ye:HAY has DNA from Denmark, so will you give Chinese designers some opportunities to participate in the design of HAY?
Kim Fiedler：HAY has talented designers from Europe, Japan, and Australia. So it’s just a question about time to cooperate with Chinese designers. And I hope that will happen very soon. We have a mail box in our headquarter office for people send their design projects. And we will cooperate with someone with design talent among them.
Last year, we exhibited a new product – handmade vase which was designed by Jessica Han, a very young woman designer. She designed many innovative products at that time, and Mette find her designs interesting. So HAY determined to promote the product by cooperating with her. And we manufactured the vase in mass and sold them in HAY stores. So I mean, HAY will find potential talented designers all over the world. And to Mette, she is willing to cooperate with a Chinese designer as HAY hopes to take root in China.
Nowadays, designers in China enjoys more and more reputation. House owners will look for designers to design their new house. And most of our products are sold to engineering teams or design teams, so we cooperate with many local interior companies and join in many projects of offices, hotels and residence.
Therefore, we believe there will be more possibilities for HAY to cooperate with interior designers and product designers in China.
◤New Order 2.0 & office supplies
Isa Ye:Nowadays, many international top brands call for design work to improve their brand images and embody their social responsibility through competitions. So in addition to cooperating with designers, has HAY ever thought of more ways to obtain design solutions and achieve multiple effects through one method?
Kim Fiedler：Yeah, we also had a design competition, I think two years ago in Denmark by inviting some young designers. A lamp design stood out of the design competition and we also exhibited the lamp. Through previous presentation, I have learnt Young Bird Plan launches many competitions and architecture will be built andproducts will be manufactured. We are looking forward to interact with young designers and institutes from all over the world through Young Bird Plan. If possible, we would like to partner with Young Bird Plan to launch a product orinterior design competition so that more young talents will be discovered.