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Sustainable company going back to its roots

Sustainable consumption is and will continue to be a decisive competitive parameter according to Nils Knudsen, owner and CEO of the Danish furniture company Magnus Olesen A/S. He is feeling lucky managing a company from 1937, where this has always been embedded in the company culture. It is only a matter of refining the values.

Nils Knudsen - CEO of Magnus Olesen A/S
Nils Knudsen - CEO of Magnus Olesen A/S

“Sustainability, sustainability, sustainability. This is the underlying tendency everywhere in the Danish community right now. It means that we have begun to set new standards and requirements as consumers. Consumers have been loyal to certain brands, but now they question even established big brands. Even if a brand is strong today circumstances can change quickly because sustainability is such a powerful competitive parameter now. We are very aware that this is the direction it goes.”

These are the words of Nils Knudsen, CEO and owner of the furniture company Magnus Olesen with roots back to 1937 and iconic furniture pieces in the back catalogue from especially the Danish Modern era in the 1950’s and 1980’s. He bought the company back in 2007 and since then the company has started a process of going back to the core of the brand.

Wood is the driver

With a carpenter as the original founder the company has build its identity on wooden furniture with artisanal details.

“We have chosen to work with wood, not plastic. We have simply just returned to the what Magnus Olesen A/S comes from” states the CEO and continues:

“If someone has invented wood today then everybody would consider it a genius invention. It grows in the nature, ties up carbon oxide, and it is antibacterial, durable and beautiful”.

Design from the hidden drawers

The strategic choice is mediated in a subtle way with Magnus Olesen’s re-launch of a design from the Danish Modern era: The Model 107 lounge chair by designer Ib Kofoed-Larsen that was put in production last year.

“Our choice has played well with consumer trends. People crave beautiful items that lasts a long time and keeps a good resale value. The warmth of the wood is much sought after by both hospitality and end users”.

Danish production

Once there where 8 furniture manufacturers in the region of Denmark where Magnus Olesen is based. Magnus Olesen is the only survivor and is a sizeable workplace and contributor to the local community, with 55 employees in the office and production, in a city with 1300 citizens. Everything is produced locally from raw materials primarily from Denmark. “The choice to stay in Denmark instead of moving production to Asia has become a competitive parameter” says the CEO. “We chose to stay in Denmark, when everybody outsourced. Today we see it as an advantage. We have short delivery times and we work actively with circular economy. It means that we offer a service, where we can refresh the products by disassembling and replacing worn out parts, so that the furniture can have a longer life.”

An example is the case with Copenhagen Airport where Magnus Olesen delivered 2400 waiting chairs back in 1995. A few years ago all chairs where refreshed and put back into action.

“This is part of our core philosophy: Design made to be disassembled and get a new life.”, explains the CEO.

(Excerpt from an article in 365 Magazine)

PS: Just recently the company has been Nominated for "Årets Grønne Brand" (Green Brand of the Year) by the Danish Design Awards 2019 - an award presented by the leading Danish interior magazines Bo Bedre, Bolig Magasinet, Costume Living and Nordic Living. Read more about it here:


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