Cereal is a biannual, travel & style magazine based in the United Kingdom. Each issue focusses on a select number of destinations, alongside engaging interviews and stories on unique design, art, and fashion.

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Interview: Mette Hay

In celebration of their first UK store in Bath, we partnered with Danish design brand HAY, to create a spring installation: INTO LEAF.

We share our interview on the subject of taste with Mette Hay, founder of HAY, as featured in Cereal volume 9

What does good taste mean to you?
That is a very difficult question and I don’t think it is possible for me to answer it completely. I like that there are so many different tastes. Good taste for me is when things are put together in a way that is curated, but also unexpected – cheap and expensive, colourful and monochrome, vintage and new. It’s more interesting when there is a thread running through it, connecting it all. Good quality and plenty of personality are, I believe, also vital to good taste.

How do you distinguish between good taste and bad taste?
Instinct. The feeling I get in my stomach is my only tool. There are many things in life about which I can be doubtful or insecure, but when it comes to picking things out for our collection, I always have a very strong feeling one way or the other.

Where does your taste come from?
I grew up in a furniture and design store in Jutland. Design was always a priority for my parents, both in their store and also in my childhood home. Then, my husband Rolf and I met our business partner Troels Holch Povlsen. He is passionate about antiques and restoring old houses. Working and travelling with him has been a great inspiration. I think my taste is continually evolving, and it needs to be fed. I am a very open person. I love to travel to new places, and I love to meet new people. I find great inspiration in that.

How much does Danish design heritage shape your taste and your work?
Here in Denmark we grow up with design. Children are taught who Arne Jacobsen is. There has always been a lot of focus on materials, simplicity, and everyday life. I think that this is one of the areas where we draw upon our Scandinavian heritage. For us, it is not important where you are from as a designer, it’s important what you represent. We have never considered HAY a Danish project, so we work with designers from all over the world. I believe we should be careful when we speak about design as a local or regional thing. Design is a global language.

Where are you finding inspiration from currently?
I meet inspiring people almost daily. I like going to places which are very different from Denmark for inspiration. Going to a design fair, for example, allows me to understand the business we are in, and I feel it is important to know what is going on, but I don’t typically find inspiration there. Most of my inspiration comes from everyday life. Of course, I also find magazines and social media, such as Instagram, influential and inspiring resources.

What defines someone as a ‘tastemaker’ to you? Do you follow anyone religiously?
We have admired Giulio Cappellini and Rolf Fehlbaum for many years. The company Established & Sons, with Sebastian Wrong as art director, was also a great inspiration. Companies such as Muji and IKEA have also inspired us to make everyday objects for reasonable prices. I was very impressed by the collaboration IKEA just launched with Ilse Crawford during the Stockholm Furniture Fair this year. For colours and patterns, there are fashion brands with great sense like Marni and Proenza Schouler. We also have a great pool of talent in our own design studio. We work and collaborate with such people as The Bourroullec Brothers, Inga Sempe, Stefan Diez, Shane Schneck, Clara Von Zweigbergk, and Scholten & Baijings. They are all fantastically inspiring.

What drew you into a career in design?
It was definitely my parents’ influence. They did nothing specific other than raising me, and exposing me to furniture and design. I have been collecting and curating since I was a child, mostly stickers and bottle caps in the beginning, and as I got older, I included different everyday objects from my travels. I have always been filling my suitcase with ashtrays, for example, or pottery or woks. I am naturally drawn to design and objects. I cannot imagine working with anything else.

Do you ever create pieces that aren’t to your particular taste, but which appeal to a broader market?
I promised Troels I would never make a new product I couldn’t see going into our own home. I’m not saying that I live with all our products, but it has been a good guideline. As I mentioned, my instinct is my main tool, so I have to let my stomach guide me. I think this is why the HAY collection looks different today from how it did 10 years ago. As Rolf and I evolve and change, the collection evolves and changes too. HAY is in motion, and I think that is a really positive thing.

Interview: Mette Hay
Interview: Mette Hay
Interview: Mette Hay
Interview: Mette Hay
Interview: Mette Hay
Interview: Mette Hay
Interview: Mette Hay