.. and I am the CEO at Bolia International A/S. I have a history that involves a long and inspiring career in international retail and E-tail, working across Europe, the Middle East and Asia before picking up the mantle at Bolia and taking part in our global expansion and creative journey since 2005. Besides a strong passion for Nordic design, creativity and happy customers, I am a music producer, mountaineer and self-proclaimed familianaire, enjoying life together with my wife our three children and two dogs.
I simply love my work and my colleagues at Bolia.com, and although I have been CEO in Bolia for more than a decade, every new day is still just as exciting as the first day I stepped into the office.
If you would like to read more about our company seen through the eyes of a CEO, you can check out my recent talk with a journalist below.
Bolia was founded in 2000 with an online presence. The iPhone wasn’t released until 2007. There’s been tremendous change since then and you’ve managed to stay on top of it. How?
'I always tell people we are a half design, half tech company. Energy for technology and design comes from the same place—creativity. That creativity can either go into design and product development or tech development. We’re always looking at how can we make things smarter with technology? It comes from a culture of always feeling like we’re never finished. We love today’s collection, but the next one will be better. Our IT platform is the best we’ve ever built, but it’s just the beginning.'
What changes have you seen in the decade that you’ve been leading Bolia?
'I joined Bolia in 2005. At that time, Bolia was a very small company with a strong entrepreneurial culture. In 2006 we decided to become a design company and started collaborating with designers. Today, we are more than 600 passionate employees, we have more than 60 European design stores, web shops in 32 European countries, and more than 500 exclusive dealers in more than 50 countries around the world. So the creativity is flourishing.
Even though we’ve grown a lot, we still feel and acts like a small company, open for change and making fast decisions. In our culture, nothing remains stable, everything is moving forward – our concept, our business and ourselves as individuals. We call this "Always being in Beta".'
Your Scandinavian design roots bring to mind a warm, luxurious, comfortable aesthetic. How do you describe your design ethos?
'Our background is rooted in the proud tradition of more than a century of craftsmanship in Denmark. We’re combining beauty, design, sustainability, functionality and craft in everything we do. In short, we say it’s about quality and quality of life. So, it’s the quality of the product that we’re very concerned about and then, of course, there has to be a pleasure to use and observe it.
It’s also important to us that we bring a fresh eye to Scandinavian design because sitting in Scandinavia, you can get a bit snow-blind being surrounded by Nordic design. We therefore invite designers from all around the world to help us. It’s very interesting for us to see what, for example, a Japanese design duo adds to Scandinavian design.'
You work with a talented mix of designers—from the up and coming to the world-renowned. How do you help support young designers?
'Since 2007, we’ve invited young designers from around the world to enter the Bolia Design Awards. The winning design is put into production. The contest celebrates young designers and helps them get a foot in the door to the business. And, of course, we also get the ability to discover new talent. And they will then become established designers in our design team and we have a really nice journey together.'
Bolia is unique in the way it considers a holistic sensory experience for customers. You have custom scents, curated music and organic coffee and chocolates in your stores to complement your beautifully designed furniture. Why is considering all the senses so important?
'We all have five senses and if you really want to make sure that customers perceive the brand as you want, you have to ask the really weird questions; “How does my brand sound? How does it taste? What does it smell like? How does it feel?” and "How does it look?" Today, we’re working with the five senses in basically everything we do. Our physical stores are designed to slow down the retail experience and give customers a chance to relax, get inspired, and put their feet up. Music is also an great inspiration for our work at Bolia and we enjoy our creative collabs together with Ohland, Stella Polaris, international DJs and talented producers. We share our playlists at Spotify and our exclusive mixtapes on Soundcloud, and are inviting talented DJ´s to perform in our Sofa Sessions. I have been working with electronically music since I was a teenager, so one of our small company secrets is that the CEO is also producing a Bolia mix tape once in a while.'
You are also climbing mountains and last October you went to Japan to summit Mount Fuji during winter with your son. What draws you to such a demanding sport?
'I started mountaineering in 2009 during the financial crisis. I needed to clear my mind. I climbed Kilimanjaro back then. When I returned, my wife said I came back a better person. I was hooked – on adventure, new cultures, just seeing the world. Now, I go climbing some of the world´s highest and most beautiful mountains once a year. It’s all about experiencing our beautiful planet and cultural diversity, but it is also an experiment to see what I am actually capable of. And, the suffering you experience when you’re mountaineering helps you appreciate the little things in life when you come back home – it’s like getting a new fresh and humble perception on your life.'
You have recently entered a global collaboration with US based Steelcase, the world´s largest office furniture company. Why does this partnership work so well?
'Both Steelcase and Bolia have a strong focus on quality, design and people. as we speak, the global workplace is changing from a formal, traditional office into an informal, multi-functional place. I think with designs from Steelcase and Bolia we can make the workplace more social, relaxing, enjoyable, productive and beautiful. In addition to what we have in common, we also have individual strengths that complements each other. Steelcase deeply understands workers and the workplace, and we have a rich background in residential design and creating an inspirational, comfortable feeling. Together, the two are dynamite.'
What’s inspiring your team right now?
'The next big thing we’ve been investigating is Mother Nature. We are in new creative ways going back to our roost and our design heritage, trying to present nature and our designs in a new inspiring way. It’s anchored by an authentic story about the materials we have selected and how we work with those materials to bring nature to life through design. It’s simple, beautiful and sustainable.'