.. 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.
What is the history of Bolia.com?
"Bolia was born in year 2000 in the heart of Aarhus, a Danish city with a strong creative background and culture. Already then, Bolia was a very different type of company, since it was one of the first furniture companies in the world that was operating from a web-based platform offering the complete collection for sale online. At the same time Bolia carried no designs on stock. All products were made to order, so when the customers placed an order online, the dedicated manufacturer started production and shipped it fresh from the factory floor to the customer´s home. Bolia designed the web-based sales platform and presented the collection in city-located showrooms. Production and distribution was completely outsourced to European partners, which meant that we never saw or touched all the products we sold. That was quite a furniture revolution back in year 2000, and in many ways, it still is today.
During the first years the collection consisted of curated products from various European suppliers and in year 2005 we decided to evolve into a proper design company and started teaming up with talented designers. It was also during this period we really zoomed in on our passion New Scandinavian Design and followed the wonderful path we are still on today."
What’s the essence of Bolia and has that changed in any way over the last two decades?
"The essence in Bolia is centred around creativity. This creativity comes out in many beautiful ways; through the way we think and work, the designs we make, the stores we build, the spaces we decorate, the good people we partner up with, the solutions we find and the technological coding we develop.
When I am asked to describe Bolia, my short answer is always that we are a half design and half tech company with creative and positive core values. One of our main company values is “always to be in beta” which means that we´re always on a journey towards something better.
This has been our fuel since the day we were founded, and we are proud that the creative fire still burns so brightly in everything we do today.
Over the years, we have gotten better at creating the stuff we love so much. Our collections, our stores, our platform and our partnerships."
Looking back, what are you most proud of?
'I became CEO for Bolia back in year 2005 and I clearly remember my first workday when Bolia still was a very small start-up company with only 10 colleagues at the head office. I thought “this amazing gem is going to be big” and now more than 15 years later I still have this exact same thought when I come to work in the morning. Even though we have grown quite a lot and today have more than 70 Bolia stores in 10 countries, Bolia webshops in 32 countries, 600+ dealers in 50+ countries and a global partnership with US based Steelcase Ltd. for the professional market – we still have such an amazing potential for further development.
Thinking of this and seeing the motivation in the eyes of our more than 800 colleagues, makes me proud.'
The brand is driven by ‘New Scandinavian Design’ – what are the essential components of this and how does it differ from the traditional movement?
'Being a creative company straight outta Denmark, we are humbly rooted on our design traditions based on simplicity, honest materials, craftmanship, form and function.
We are also doing our best trying to blur the lines of creativity by being inspired by and teaming up with good people from other creative walks of life, such as art, music, food, design, architecture, technology and fashion.
We use this shared creativity in everything we do and every expression we have. Not only limited to the development of our designs, but also in the way we think, work, express our brand and explore other creations and partnerships.
When it comes to the development of our designs and collections we are privileged to be working with a stable of talented designers from around the world. More than 75 % of the good people in our design collective are born and raised outside Scandinavia, so this diversity and their fresh interpretation of New Scandinavian Design brings something exciting to the table and moves our brand and expression forward with each new collection.'
You make sustainability the starting point of all designs – how does that follow through to the final product?
'We believe that a more sustainable way forward is all about choices. The thousands of choices we make every day as a politician, a chairman, a leader, a colleague, a family member, a consumer and as an individual. These many choices can be business related, family related or personally related. All the way from the strategic decision in the board room to how you choose to live and to the evening dinner choice you make in your local supermarket. At Bolia our ambition is to make healthier and greener choices and to inspire our customers and followers to do the same by sharing our passion, creativity and solutions.
During the past years we have made huge changes to how our products designs comes to life and hos we position ourselves as a company on the global marketplace.
Our main aim has been to work with certified materials and strengthen our product longevity throughout all business- and product areas, as we believe this is the action that has the absolute biggest impact on reducing our carbon lifetime footprint.
All our wood is FSC®-certified, all our leathers are traceable, all our fabrics are OEKOTEX®-certified, all our rugs are Care&Fair-certified and much, much more.
Many of our furniture designs are quality tested at Bureau Veritas, Germany and living up to the world´s highest compliance standards for the global professional market such as GS and BSCI etc.'
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 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 mixtape 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.'
How do you see Scandinavia and design evolving over the coming years and what are your trend predictions for the coming years?
'In our eyes, some of the most interesting transitions are focused around three main drivers;
The conscious consumer
Today, we as consumers are a passionate bunch: passionate about the products we buy, where they come from, who made them, from which materials they are created, how sustainable they are – and how long they last. We are fed up with cheap stuff that doesn’t last and seek quality in the strive for buying less but better. We all want to get the most out of our lives, so we are aware of how we can optimize our mind, our body, our health and our well-being, through prioritising focus on the food we eat, the choices we make, the people we meet, the stuff we buy and the surroundings where we live and work – and the nature we surround ourselves with.
The fluid society
Our industrial society is undergoing a revolution and making us aware that we do not need to do everything at the same time or live and work the same way. Things are generally becoming more fluid and more liberating, showing a path for us to adapt the way we work to the way we live, instead of the other way around. That is also why many professional workspaces are changing fast for the better. Morning traffic jams, wasted time, stressful planning, formal structures, anti-social cubicles, dull and generic office furniture, inflexible solutions and uninspiring surroundings will hopefully soon all be signs of the past. We are already embracing the new fluid ways of working, living and shopping and we are just in the beginnin'
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 does the year ahead hold for Bolia?
'The coming year will be filled with tons of exciting stuff. Besides from launching two beautiful upcoming design collections in March and August, we will open many new Bolia stores across Europe and establish new partnerships with selected design dealers around the world. Finally, we will expand our collaboration with our friends from Steelcase into the North American and Asian market. Our customers will experience an even more inspiring, beautiful and sustainable Bolia the coming years, and our colleagues will experience new exciting ways of working and new development opportunities unfold.
It´s all about sharing creativity.'