The apprenticeship workshop, entitled The LAB, aims to preserve the quality and craftsmanship of Denmark
Photography courtesy of Carl Hansen & Søn featuring two apprentices in The LAB
Danish furniture company Carl Hansen & Søn has set up its own apprentice workshop, The LAB, which aims to train more cabinet makers to meet growing demands and to preserve both the solid quality and craftsmanship of Denmark.
‘Quality craftsmanship is the foundation of Carl Hansen & Søn, which is one of the reasons why we established The LAB apprentice workshop,’ comments Knud Erik Hansen, CEO and third generation owner of Carl Hansen & Søn. ‘Having an apprentice workshop is in our own interest, because we need skilled cabinetmakers.’
This year marks Knud Erik Hansen’s 21st year as CEO. In the past years, Knud Erik Hansen has turned the family business into a global furniture manufacturer that has helped put Danish design from renowned names including Hans J. Wegner, Børge Mogensen, Ole Wanscher, Poul Kjærholm, Arne Jacobsen, Kaare Klint and many more on the map.
Photography courtesy of Carl Hansen & Søn featuring the CH23 dining chair, first introduced in 1950, and designed by Hans J. Wegner
Over the course of two decades, Knud Erik Hansen’s grandfather’s name is now displayed on the store windows at 20 locations across 12 countries, and the number of employees working at the Danish factory on Funen has grown from 50 to 600.
Knud Erik Hansen has worked to show the world the work ethos on which his family built the company: To create quality furniture based on diligent craftsmanship, classic design and good materials. The LAB is an extension of this and structured as a modern apprenticeship. The training takes three years and nine months, combining time at The LAB apprentice workshop with a period in production and attendance at a technical college.
In The LAB apprentice workshop, apprentices learn to make different kinds of joints, such as finger and dovetail joints, as well as learn sanding methods, cutouts, weaving and many more machine and hand skills. Gaining an in-depth understanding of the possibilities and challenges of cabinetmaking, the apprentices also learn how to restore vintage furniture and create commissioned pieces.
Photography courtesy of Carl Hansen & Søn featuring apprentice Tobias
‘The combination of these tasks helps to train some very versatile cabinetmakers,’ shares Knud Erik Hansen. ‘After completing their training, our apprentices do a journeyman’s exam, and it is very satisfying to see them master their craft to perfection. After that, we naturally hope that our newly fledged cabinetmakers will continue to work with us and help add soul to our large collection of iconic design furniture.’
‘By training our own cabinetmakers we are helping to preserve and carry on the trade and design tradition that Denmark has become so well known for. Machines take care of the heavy work in our production, so the cabinetmakers can focus on the details and ensure the wood has soul. The human element of a piece of furniture is very important in my opinion. Where you can see that it was created by a human being. This is the essence of what we want to train our apprentices in.’
‘I applied to do an apprenticeship at Carl Hansen & Søn because I dream of helping to make some of the most highly acclaimed Danish design classics, which the company is renowned for,’ adds Amalie Liv Holm, a 23-year-old apprentice at Carl Hansen & Søn. ‘The LAB apprentice workshop gives me the opportunity to learn the foundations of cabinet making. The opportunity to focus on the details in my trade makes me feel equipped for life as a graduate in a few years.’
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