When Mette and Rolf Hay first visited their summer home on the Danish coast, it was love at first sight. Today, the co-founders of trailblazing design brand HAY (producers of a wide range of products like stationery, storage, tableware, and textiles) come here for cosy holidays with family and weekends of creative inspiration.

It’s no wonder this is where Mette Hay comes to recharge and feel inspired. Surrounded by tranquil waters and tall grass, the summer house she shares with her husband Rolf and their children sits serenely on a cliff above the North Sea, just an hour from HAY’s company headquarters in Copenhagen, Denmark. As the creative director of HAY, a role she shares with her husband, Mette has to keep her ideas flowing. Spending time outside the city certainly helps.

Built in 1931, the house features original wood panelling, stone floors and huge windows that frame the picturesque landscape outside. During the summertime, Mette and her husband Rolf slide the windows open, allowing life, and sound, to drift seamlessly inside and out. They spend the warmer days collecting strawberries from the nearby farm and hosting long dinners with friends, which helps Mette tune in to her creative intuition and select everything from new colours to design collaborators for the growing brand.

In collaboration with Sonos, Mette recently finalised the colours for the HAY Sonos One Special Edition Collection, which will be available in September. To learn more about her intuitive approach to design, we visited Mette at her spacious holiday home, where colour and sound naturally weave their way into her leisurely routines.

 

Mette, can you tell us a bit about your summer house and its history? How did you find it?
We had been looking for a summer house in the area for a long time, as a lot of friends had houses up there already. We were looking in the spring of 2014, right after we’d had a very large winter storm in December 2013 that flooded the coast and troubled a lot of homeowners near the water. Luckily, or unluckily for us–depending on how you look at it—this home was up for sale as many worried it would fall into the water. Although the day of our viewing was very rainy, both Rolf and I knew straight away that it was for us. It was very much an instinctual, gut feeling.

What made you fall in love with it?
The house sits on a cliff and has this amazing panoramic view of the ocean. Sometimes it feels as though I am surrounded by the sea—a calm, gentle sea. When I was a child, my parents had a summer home on the western coast of Denmark where the ocean is much rougher and wilder, the wind blows a lot more and the waves are higher. The ocean here is the complete opposite, which I enjoy much more.

The house has only had a few owners since it was built in 1931. Architecturally speaking, the home is exactly as it was when first constructed. Rolf and I were both attracted to the originality of the wood panelling. On top of that, there is a huge lush front garden for our kids and family dog to play in. We can use the house all year round; although we call it a summer house, we don’t have to shut it down when it gets cold and we have spent many Christmas holidays in it.

With so many unique features, it must have an immense impact on your creativity.
Yes, the house is where we recharge during the weekend. My Monday mornings are 50 times more productive compared to three days spent in Copenhagen. We also host a lot more friends and dinners there than in our own home. After a short stroll on the beach, you reach a small town where we collect fish for lunch or we pick strawberries; we do a lot that is not directly related to work. Yet, talking with friends, spending mornings surrounded by the richest colours, or finding something I didn’t know I needed at the local flea market feeds me with a lot of energy and inspires me in my creative work for HAY and HAY Accessories.

How does your design philosophy come alive at home?
At home we use a lot of HAY products, but also have objects from flea markets, travels around the world, or mine or Rolf’s parents. Separately they might not look as special or interesting as they do on a New Order shelf, yet they all tell a story and are generally pieces that I love and want to be surrounded by. I like working with everyday objects that have a function, but at the same time I like to add a twist to make them special in different ways.

What role does colour play in your work as creative director of HAY?
At HAY, no two products are the same. I believe each object has its own set of colours: A chair, a toothbrush, or a piece of porcelain can’t have the same colours, yet they can still complement each other. I select colours based on situations rather than moods. Sometimes I do question decisions made on certain days and whether I would have decided differently on another, but that’s something I like to ignore as so much about colours relates to intuition. When I started working on the colour palette for Sonos, I had a clear direction in mind—by the time of our first internal meeting, I therefore knew exactly what we wanted to do and what colours we needed.

Tell us more about your colour selection for the Sonos One Special Edition Collection.
In terms of colours, we were inspired by our daily home life. We wanted to create colours that were for everyone. The yellow relates to kitchens and bathrooms that are often kept light and complemented with stainless steel and porcelain. The green hues were supposed to remind viewers of pots or plants sitting by windows. The light grey is for everyone, but it was important to find the right shade—a shade that suits both workspaces, homes, and different looks with its neutral tone. Pink is intended for the fashionable person. We feel that all things pink create a special desire right now.

The iconic red was the final colour I chose for the collection, as it creates such an important accent with regards to furniture and it fits well with our New Order shelf by Stefan Diez. The summer house’s bench, which is designed by Vico Magistretti, is a good example of that red. It is very important to have a colour palette that isn’t just beautiful. Therefore, this one is based on the product and the way it interacts with different needs and spaces.

Does your taste in colour differ when it comes to your personal space?
We incorporate colours comparable to those in the HAY collection while you can find others on walls, floors, art works, and other architectural elements. At home, I like having colours and patterns such as the red bench—I love the contrasts between the wood panelling and the bright vibrant design of Magistretti.

How do you feel about sound and the way it should weave into your home?
When you enter a house that has been sitting empty for some time, turn on some music, and add a vase with flowers, that instantly makes it cosier. To me, sound is definitely a sign of life in a home. Having Sonos at home has added an extra level—one that we didn’t even know we were missing. Music always enhances the atmosphere: Whether we have guests over, or are in the kitchen making dinner after work, it becomes more relaxed or upbeat depending on our mood and what we choose to hear.

You have Sonos in your summer home. How has it impacted your life here?
One of the best parts of having Sonos in the summer house, especially in the warmer seasons, is opening the doors to the terrace and having music flow outside. That way, music can still be part of our lives. You always have this song that you hear all summer and it becomes part of your memory. To me, that’s Blood Orange, as they always suit the mood here—they have become the sound of the summer house and a lot of my summer memories.

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