Stelton - legendary design from Denmark
The Danish design company Stelton was founded in 1960 as a trading company by Niels Stellan Høm and Carton Madelaire in Hellerup (Copenhagen Metropolitan Region). The name Stelton is based on the combination of the prefix of the first name Stellan and the second syllable of Carton. At first they tried their luck with the sale of sports shoes, later with furniture, but all attempts did not lead to the desired success. Then the two entrepreneurs came across a small metalworking company called Dansk Rustfrit (Danish Stainless steel) in Fårevejle in the northwest of the island of Seeland.
Dansk Rustfrit and Stelton
Dansk Rustfrit produced stainless items for the table and kitchen. The manufacturing company, which was weak in sales, entrusted the young company Stelton with the sale of a new gravy boat. Stelton took care of the marketing and sales and the desired success was soon achieved. The gravy boat sold surprisingly often in Denmark. The cooperation intensified and Stelton positioned itself as a supplier of stainless steel products at the highest level of design and quality. The products were in demand by luxury buyers worldwide. The later director Peter Holmblad joined the young team and redesigned the packaging, logo and catalogs. Through these measures, Stelton finally established itself as a high-quality design brand. The company Dansk Rustfrit was acquired and the way was clear for its own high-quality stainless steel collection.
The Cylinda Line
For this collection Peter Holmblad won his stepfather, the famous Danish architect Arne Jacobsen in 1964. He was to design a new series in the high-end sector. Arne Jacobsen drew a collection für table and table as well as für the bar area in cylindrical and minimalist form – the Cylinda-Line. Arne Jacobsen used only stainless steel and ebony for the products and thanks to the craftsmanship experience in the factory in Fårevejle, the difficult-to-make cylindrical shape could be produced in good quality. The series became a huge success and is still one of the most important design highlights of Dänemark and Scandinavia.
After Arne Jacobsen died, his son wanted to add a vacuum jug to the Cylinda-Line style collection. However, for legal reasons, the design was not allowed to be simply a continuation of the Cylinda-Line. Peter Holmblad was looking for a young designer who could take the cylindrical shape of the popular series and use it to create an independent design for a vacuum jug. He met the young designer Erik Magnussen. The designer took on the difficult task and designed a cylindrical vacuum jug with softer lines, so that the jug was characterized by a very harmonious shape. Peter Holmblad and Erik Magnussen also worked for a long time on the ingenious closure. The jug was to open automatically when poured and close again when put down. In 1977, one of the most important Scandinavian design classics was presented at the Spring Fair in Frankfurt. The vacuum jug was launched in a stainless steel version with a pourer and sugar bowl and became the brand's bestseller. In 1979, the cheaper plastic versions followed, then the half-liter version, and for some years now, even seasonal colors have been offered in limited editions.
The Magnussen / Holmblad duo
The successful designer and the business manager presented in the decade of the 1980s several elegant and simple serving and bar tools such as cake server or knife, lasagna lifter, cheese cutter or bar knife, cap lifter, wine cooler and a T-bone corkscrew. Furthermore, Erik Magnussen started in 1982 with a series of designs of oil lamps – the most famous is the legendary ship lamp. It is a modern interpretation of a classic ship lantern and is still offered un changed in stainless steel.
New beginning in Christianshavn
Between the 1990s and 2004, there was less and less new impetus, sales declined and the company was sold to a group of investors around former board member Michael Ring of Georg Jensen. Michael Ring became managing director and moved the administration from Hellerup to Christianshavn, which is located across the harbor from Copenhagen, opposite Christiansborg Castle, where the Danish parliament is located. The district of Christianshavn has been transformed from a working-class neighborhood near the harbor into a trendy district today. Christianshavn is also home to Christiana, an autonomous area known beyond Denmark's borders, where residents live according to an alternative social model. In this creative environment, Michael Ring invited several designers to a brainstorming session after the move to develop a new vision for the somewhat dusty Stelton brand. He wanted to reposition Stelton as a lifestyle brand for good design. The first product to be launched under his direction was the legendary bread bag by Danish designer Klaus Rath. The first deliveries of this revolutionary product were often sold out within a day. The bread bag mutated next to the vacuum jug for several years into another Bestseller for the Danish design company.
Also well received was the Stelton Emma series from 2013 – a series for coffee and tea in the retro style of the 1950s – designed by the Danish designer duo Sebastian Holmbäck and Ulrik Nordentoft. New, retro and state of the art is the Stelton battery lamp Pier from 2022. It received a lot of positive feedback from the press and trade and evokes associations with classic oil lamps, with which the lighthouse keeper sets off towards the lighthouse to see why the big lamp is no longer burning. Yet Pier with its modern, long-lasting battery technology is anything but backward-looking. The faithful companion provides light outdoors or indoors, and is easy to carry, set up or hang. The popular novelties also include the Stelton Pilastro glass series as a drinking glass, universal bowl or carafe with characteristic ripple structure. Stelton also scored a modern success with the to-go mugs and drinking bottles, which are sometimes embellished with Moomin motifs.
Stelton is today one of the great Scandinavian design brands and stands worldwide for outstanding Danish design. The Cylinda-Line by Arne Jacobsen is one of the most important designs in the history of Scandinavian design. But Erik Magnussen's vacuum jug, which is more harmonious in its lines, continues to shape the image of Scandinavian design around the world today, as do the Aalto vase and Teema tableware – both by Iittala.