The story about Rud. Rasmussen

Rud. Rasmussen produces its own furniture as the company has been doing since 1869, when Rudolph Rasmussen set up his cabinetmaking business in Copenhagen.

First generation - Rudolph Rasmussen

Rud. Rasmussen produces its own furniture as the company has been doing since 1869, when Rudolph Rasmussen set up his cabinetmaking business in Copenhagen.

Rudolph Rasmussen did his apprenticeship with a cabinetmaker in Aarhus in 1857, and his career took off four years later, when he moved to Copenhagen and began to work for the royal cabinetmaker I. G. Lund. At Lund, the young Rudolph Rasmussen was given ample opportunity to develop his draughtsmanship and became adept at using cabinetmaking machinery. Rasmussen was entrusted with several important commissions, including building Lund's stand at the industrial exhibition in Stockholm in 1866 - a project that earned him enough capital to start up on his own. He worked out of small, rented premises in central Copenhagen for the first few years, moving to his own premises in St. Kongensgade in 1874.

Shortly after, while Rudolph Rasmussen was involved in a large job making furniture for Hotel d'Angleterre in Copenhagen, his workshop burned down.

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However, the furniture maker used the insurance payment of 10,000 Danish kroner to finance a move to the vibrant street of Nørrebrogade in Copenhagen. Together with his brother-in-law, the master cabinetmaker J.C. Groule, who specialized in polished mahogany and walnut furniture, Rudolph Rasmussen bought the plot on the corner of Stengade and Nørrebrogade - where the company remains to this day.

Factory for oak furniture

Groule and Rasmussen first built a residential property overlooking Nørrebrogade and a four-story factory building facing Stengade, from where they ran their furniture business, in 1875. There was a boiler in the basement of the factory building and a steam engine and a small group of other machinery on the ground floor.

The upper floors were fitted out as workshops for the craftsmen. Rudolph Rasmussen named his companyRud. Rasmussens Fabrik for Egetræsmøbler (Rud. Rasmussen's Factory for Oak Furniture). In using the word "factory," it is likely he wished to signal a focus on streamlined, large-scale operations. Machinery had transformed the furniture-making trade, making it possible to cut wood to exact and uniform dimensions - and freeing up resources for tasks such as carving the wood as well as varnishing, polishing, and assembling the furniture. Rud. Rasmussen soon established a reputation for well-made oak furniture, and demand grew.

When Martin Nyrup's new City Hall was completed at the beginning of the 20th century, the local authority in Copenhagen became one of Rud. Rasmussen's biggest customers.

Rudolph Rasmussen often designed the furniture himself, but was also assisted by well-known Danish architects such as Vilhlem Dahlerup and Thorvald Bindesbøll.

Second generation - Rudolph's sons, Rudolf and Victor

When Rudolph Rasmussen died in 1904, his sons Rudolf and Victor Rasmussen took over and jointly realized their father's plans to build a new, larger factory, which was completed in 1911.

The new facility no longer used belt drives, but only electrical machines powered by a new steam engine with a dynamo in the basement - a setup that freed up space for a machinery workshop on the ground floor and a cabinetmakers' workshops on the first floor and on parts of the second floor. The old factory was converted into offices, storage facilities, and showroom.

Commissions to supply furniture to the public authorities rolled in. The police station, the postal service, various ministries, the technical university, and hospitals all commissioned furniture from Rud. Rasmussen, but the company also accepted orders for smaller pieces of furniture or e.g. new windows for private homes.  "It is these small, one-off commissions that keep a furniture maker from becoming set in his ways," said Rudolf and Victor.

Functional furniture

In the beginning of the 1920´s, functionalism was making an impact on Danish architects and furniture designers - a development that had a bearing on the furniture industry in general and on Rud. Rasmussen in particular. Kaare Klint became a decisive influence on the design of functional furniture in Denmark due to his systematic approach and his position as a long-standing university lecturer and later professor at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts' furniture school.

Rud. Rasmussen's partnership with Kaare Klint started in 1926 when, together with his friend and colleague Ivar Bentsen, Klint was commissioned to convert and furnish the former King Frederik's

Hospital on Bredgade in central Copenhagen into a museum. Rud. Rasmussen manufactured a number of display cases and pieces of furniture for the new Danish Museum of Decorative Art (now the Danish Museum of Art and Design) - among them the "Red Chair," which Klint had designed for the museum's lecture hall.

Working closely with architects
In the years that followed, Kaare Klint designed several pieces of furniture, including his Addition Sofa, Greek Sofa, one of the first knock-down chairs - the Safari Chair - which could be completely dismantled and reassembled, and a number of desks and coffee tables. Rud. Rasmussen produced all of Klint's works on its premises.

In the late 1920s, architect and professor Mogens Koch began to work with Rud. Rasmussen, and in 1932, the company produced the first elements of his now-renowned Bookcase System. For Mogens Koch, it was crucial that customers who started to collect his shelves could always add to the system. This was a promise Rud. Rasmussen was happy to make - and one that the company has honored for over 80 years.

The collaboration with Kaare Klint and Mogens Koch was seminal. It was at that time, in 1930, that the company changed its name to Rud. Rasmussens Snedkerier - Rud. Rasmussen's Cabinetmakers.

Third generation and the Danish Modern concept

 In 1944, Erik and Aage Rasmussen, the sons of Rudolf Rasmussen Jr. and the third generation of the Rasmussen family to run the company, took over after their father's death. During the 1950s, to accommodate fast-growing demand, Erik and Aage Rasmussen reduced the company's investments in smaller, one-off projects and shifted focus towards mass-produced furniture - while maintaining a focus on traditional craftsmanship.

The firm flourished in the 1950s and 60s, producing approximately 5,000 Kaare Klint Safari Chairs every year and several thousand Mogens Koch bookcases. At the same time, Rud. Rasmussen gradually enlarged its range of machinery while keeping the labor force relatively stable at about 50 employees.

The period marked a new direction is the company's business, and in the decades that followed, Rud. Rasmussen concentrated on producing these beautifully designed, classic pieces of furniture.

Fourth generation

In 1979, the reins were handed over to the fourth generation of Rasmussens when Jørgen Rud. Rasmussen, who had been employed at the company since 1967, was appointed Managing Director.

From threat of demolition to historical listing of premises

In the early 1980s, dark clouds appeared on the company's horizon. The City of Copenhagen had started redeveloping the local district, and both the showroom facing Stengade and the factory building in the courtyard were due to be demolished. This would have spelled the end of Rud. Rasmussens Snedkerier. However, at the last minute, the authorities relented, and a new idea of establishing a craftsmen's center arose.

In 2007, Rud. Rasmussen was made a national industrial monument, with the buildings listed by the Danish Agency for Culture in 2008.

Normally, a company would not be interested in having its production facilities listed, but for Rud. Rasmussen it meant continuing producing furniture on Nørrebrogade, as it has always done.

Carl Hansen & Søn takes over
In autumn 2011, Carl Hansen & Søn bought Rud. Rasmussens Snedkerier, which continues to exist as an independent brand. The two companies have a clear common ground founded in a strong tradition for craftsmanship and timeless design. Together, the companies can now appeal to a larger target group with a wider assortment of high-quality, designer furniture. Through Carl Hansen & Søn's international sales organization, the work of Danish design icons like Kaare Klint and Mogens Koch can now be showcased on a global stage alongside the classics of masters like Hans J. Wegner - a stage they all deserve to be on.

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