Profile: Sebastian Wrong
We talk to the British designer charged with creating a new brand for the ambitious Danish manufacturer Hay
Sebastian Wrong keeps good company. He’s just joined forces with successful Danish design firm Hay to form a new brand: Wrong for Hay, where he is a partner and design director, and still finds time to create products himself thanks to the support of ‘a very good team’ of people.
‘It’s a process I’ve got used to over the years because I did it with Established & Sons for such a long time,’ Wrong explains (he was a founding member and design director at Established until he left the company in 2012). ‘But I rely on my team who work closely with me to interpret and develop my ideas. This internal support allows me the space and time to get heavily involved in other designers’ designs,’ he continues.
The relationship with Hay seems to be a particularly happy one. He is full of admiration for Hay founders Mette and Rolf Hay and the way they have grown the company since it launched in 2003. ‘I was introduced to Rolf and Mette through a mutual friend (designer) Stefan Diez and we realised we had a lot of things in common – we’re similar ages, we’ve had similar experiences in the market, we have similar likes and dislikes and a similar belief about what the future of design will be…’, he says. Most importantly, they share a passion for making quality design accessible. ‘The market I’m interested in is the middle market,’ Wrong asserts. ‘We’re interested in offering good design at affordable prices and that’s all about producing in volume. It’s the principal behind the whole business model, which is very refreshing for me.’
There are some well-known names (including Diez) behind the products but he is keen to disassociate himself from the ‘star designer’ circus. ‘I think that the business got lost somewhat in the idea that the name of a designer could sell the products,’ says Wrong. ‘It’s not the case at all. Few people really know who these designers are – it’s a small industry.’ There is no one style that connects the work chosen for the new range but the products share ‘a general aesthetic’ that Wrong likes to cultivate combining the attributes of ‘utility, character and materiality’.
Wrong’s design adventures started with sculpture, which he studied at Norwich School of Art. He went on to establish his own manufacturing company in 1996, honing technical skills which stood him in good stead for future projects. In 2003 Flos produced his now iconic Spun Light and more design classics followed (both his own and those he curated during his time at Established & Sons). He set up his Wrong Shop business in 2011 (still going strong) as an outlet for more ‘unorthodox design ideas’.
The original plan was to produce a lighting range with Hay, but Mette and Rolf were keen to push the collaboration further and the collection now includes furniture, textiles and accessories, as well as lighting. Wrong himself is particularly pleased about the textile range, featuring designs by Memphis group co-founder Nathalie Du Pasquier and fashion designer Bernhard Willhelm.
‘I think we’ve spread our net quite wide but I think that’s sensible and a good backbone to build on,’ says Wrong. The fact that everything came together in just nine months is testament, he says, to the solid infrastructure already established by Hay. ‘We can be really quick to react to the market (demands) which is really exciting for me,’ he adds.
The Wrong for Hay collection will be available through the Hay stores and select retailers, while trade buyers will be encouraged to visit the forthcoming Wrong for Hay/Hay showroom, opening in the former dining space of the St. Stephen’s Club, near St James’s Park.