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Stellan and Carton were two friends who merged their first names in forming one of Denmark's best-know design brands, Stelton. Niels Stellan Høm and Carton Madelaire were army pals who joined forces 50 years ago to start a trading company. They tried their hand at sports shoes and furniture, but their business did not really take off until they heard about a small factory in Fårevejle, Denmark, called Danish Stainless.
Danish Stainless produced stainless steel tableware, which was very much in vogue in Denmark's 1960s. Upon entering into an agreement with Danish Stainless, Stelton began marketing a stainless gravy boat that sold like hotcakes in Danish hardware stores and was also a hit outside Denmark. In the United States, Stelton products were the epitome of Danish Design and sold at ten times their Danish prices in high-end department stores and design boutiques.
A new managing director, Peter Holmblad, brought his far-reaching vision with him when he joined the company. New catalogues, packaging and graphic design all helped create a new design brand. However, Peter Holmblad was convinced that Stelton could survive only through new product design. Far too many companies produced the same kinds of products.
As the stepson of Arne Jacobsen, who was perhaps Denmark's greatest architect and designer ever, it was natural for Peter Holmblad to approach his stepfather with a proposal.
Peter Holmblad tried repeatedly to convince Arne Jacobsen to design something new for Stelton. He only succeeded, however, once he showed some of his own drawing to his stepfather. Arne Jacobsen found these so hopeless that he began designing something else. The brief was to create a tea and coffee service, as well as bowls, an ice bucket and pitchers for the dining table and bar - all in stainless steel.
Stelton launched the new products three years later as Cylinda-Line. The new series immediately made a splash as a major innovation within its category. The simplicity of cylindrical shapes and specially designed plastic handles characterized the line which, along with its brushed steel surfaces, stood in striking contrast to the highly polished curves of its day. Cylinda-Line was awarded the ID Prize in 1967.
Cylinda-Line was a great commercial success. But after Arne Jacobsen's death in 1971, further extensions of the line were impossible. Nonetheless, Stelton still needed new products - especially a vacuuml vacuum jug - as vacuum jugs were outcompeting more traditional coffee pots in the new and more relaxed coffee culture of the time. It was at this juncture that a young ceramicist and designer named Erik Magnussen stepped into the picture. He designed a vacuum jug that managed to distinguish itself from the Cylinda universe while remaining securely within it. "The Stelton jug" soon became known for its functional rocker stopper which opened automatically as coffee was poured. The Stelton vacuum jug was also awarded the Danish ID Prize in 1977, and has gone on to sell more than 10 million units since 1977.
The Stelton vacuum jug kicked off 30 years of collaboration between Peter Holmblad's business acumen and Erik Magnussen's creative power. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, the duo produced a wide range of design hits that appealed across generations of gift givers.
After a period of considerable market challenges, Peter Holmblad sold the company in 2004. The new owner, Michael Ring, quickly initiated the company's commercial renaissance. He trimmed the assortment and invited new designers to furnish innovative product ideas to meet current consumer needs. Stelton added new lines to appeal to a broader range of consumer segments. While the cylindrical form can be seen in many of the new products, the current collection also includes a number of other, softer shapes.