written by:
August 29, 2014
Originally published in Modern Dreams
as
Double Duty
Shuttling between her Paris apartment and her German workshop, Gesa Hansen strikes a balance while continuing a family design tradition.
Alexander Girard-inspired, geometric sideboard

Danish-German designer Gesa Hansen released an Alexander Girard–inspired sideboard in 2013 for the Hansen Family line.

 

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Wooden geometric headboard with green plants wallpaper

The headboard in Hansen’s bedroom echoes the 2013 side-board. The wallpaper is from Arte.

Courtesy of 
Nathalie Mohadjer
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Wooden sideboard with blue accents and drawers inspired by Scandinavian sailboats

The drawer fronts of the sideboard from the Remix collection were modeled after Scandinavian sailboats.

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Living room with geometric rug and gray convertible sofa

In the living room, Hansen’s convertible Night couch and coffee table join a Black Marble rug by Suki Cheema and Slovenian Bear from Charles Fréger’s Wilder Mann series.

Courtesy of 
Nathalie Mohadjer
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Wooden dining table with storage cases and Eames side chairs

Paired with Eames side chairs, her dining table includes two cases “to either hide or show things,” she says.

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Kitchen with wood and stone dining table and ceiling lamp

A Two Spheres ceiling lamp from Atelier Areti hangs above the Hansen’s dining table, which includes an inset—one side is wood, the other stone.

Courtesy of 
Nathalie Mohadjer
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Gesa Hansen in her workshop in Germany

The designer frequently travels to her workshop in Germany, where she collaborates with her team.

Courtesy of 
Aloïs Kato
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Wooden desk with colorful top compartments

From the Remix line, an extendable oak desk based on the classic Davenport silhouette is updated with the addition of four colorful compartments.

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Paris apartment shelves with vases and vintage telephone

Among Hansen’s treasured objects are a sign bearing her daughter, Lou’s, name and a Milia Seyppel vase.

 

Courtesy of 
Nathalie Mohadjer
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Japanese-inspired tea bench with white and green cushions

The Japanese-inspired tea bench is a new design.

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Oak desk organizer

This simple desk organizer is carved out of solid oak.

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Family of oak coffee tables with natural grain

Sets of these oak coffee tables are made out of the same piece of wood, so the grain continues from one table to another.

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Wooden truck that opens to reveal a home bar

This wooden trunk may be nondescript on the outside, but inside it can hold a complete home bar.

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Gesa Hansen designer portrait

Hansen in the kitchen of her apartment in Paris.

Courtesy of 
Nathalie Mohadjer
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Alexander Girard-inspired, geometric sideboard

Danish-German designer Gesa Hansen released an Alexander Girard–inspired sideboard in 2013 for the Hansen Family line.

 

Gesa Hansen comes from a long line of furniture designers. “My mother would take me to all the design fairs from the time I was four,” says Hansen, who is Danish and German. “Furniture is so natural for her,” says the German photographer Nathalie Mohadjer—Hansen’s frequent collaborator and best friend—who shot the images accompanying this story. The two met while studying at the famous Bauhaus University, in Weimar, Germany. “In school, in the product design classes, everyone asked [Gesa], ‘How do you know everything already?’”

Wanting to strike out on her own path, Hansen, whose father is the Danish furniture designer Hans Hansen, got her diploma in product design. “I needed something new, for me,” she says. But by the end of her studies, she had found her way back to furniture.

Wooden geometric headboard with green plants wallpaper

The headboard in Hansen’s bedroom echoes the 2013 side-board. The wallpaper is from Arte.

“I still do graphic design, but it’s a real effort—it’s really work for me,” says Hansen, who moved to Paris to work for the architect Jean Nouvel. “With furniture, it’s building up in my mind the whole time, and at one point it just comes out.” 

Family is a recurring theme for Hansen, who launched her own line of furniture under the name the Hansen Family in 2009. Remix is a Scandinavian-influenced collection consisting of a dozen solid-oak pieces—including a slick, but comfy, felt sleeper sofa and
a teardrop-shaped coffee table. “When I created it, it had to do with the idea of ethics,” she says. “Working with local wood, paying people a decent wage. I wanted to do something honest. I didn’t expect it to be so successful.” But it was, winning two Red Dot awards and a
Good Design Award from the Chicago Athenaeum. It also earned a nomination for the 2011 German Design Award.

Wooden sideboard with blue accents and drawers inspired by Scandinavian sailboats

The drawer fronts of the sideboard from the Remix collection were modeled after Scandinavian sailboats.

“I think one is always more inspired by the grandfather’s generation than the father’s generation,” Hansen says, noting that both of her grandfathers worked with wood. “My father was inspired by the Bauhaus. I’m inspired by the Bauhaus as well. But what I’m really drawn to is the 1950s, the wood.” 

The Hansen Family label was born when Hansen returned to Paris after a brief, if aesthetically important, stint working in Japan. Frustrated that her designs were undergoing so many changes that she didn’t recognize them when they were finished, she decided to create her own pieces. 

On a trip home to Germany, she and her father reopened an old family woodshop and recruited a team to work there. “It’s next to a stream, and the  machines are water powered. The river is crystal clear, in the middle of the forest. You feel like you’re in another time. My daughter loves it there,” says Hansen of her three-year-old, Lou.

Living room with geometric rug and gray convertible sofa

In the living room, Hansen’s convertible Night couch and coffee table join a Black Marble rug by Suki Cheema and Slovenian Bear from Charles Fréger’s Wilder Mann series.

Now that the Hansen Family collection has taken off, Hansen travels regularly between Paris and her German woodshop. While Hansen says she is addicted to Paris for its inimitable sense of chic, she also feels that the city is conducive to her work. “I think I need Paris’s spark,” she explains. “There’s this creative exchange. And it’s important to be here, to maintain those relationships.” 

Following her recent divorce, Hansen moved to a ground-floor studio that is just over 500 square feet. The new apartment has prompted several prototypes in just a few short months, including a dining table. “You see,” she says, pointing to a magazine photograph of an early version in her former kitchen, “I just crossed the legs.” Then she added a rounded marble-plate top. “I fixed it in a way you can remove it. So it’s easier for transport.”

Wooden dining table with storage cases and Eames side chairs

Paired with Eames side chairs, her dining table includes two cases “to either hide or show things,” she says.

Hansen credits her apartment—along with her job as an interior designer—with expanding her material horizons. “My first collection was only wood,” she says. “I’m ready to mix materials.” The marble tabletop, for example, was a result of her cake baking. “I put marble on the kitchen bar because I wouldn’t need a plate. So now, I wake up and see the cake. I can cut a slice and drink a cup of coffee.” 

New routines such as this one have inspired Hansen’s current fascination with the idea of ritual. “When Lou comes home now, she always puts her shoes under the tea bench,” a low oak piece that Hansen designed recently in collaboration with a Japanese colleague. “Her favorite place to sit is by the windows, so I’m going to make some cushions for her there.”

“I think ‘ritual’ might even be the name of my next collection,” says Hansen, who looks around the small but comfortable space with palpable satisfaction. “Now I just need a place for my keys.” 

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