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Reviving Playful Design: Fritz Hansen’s Rocking Horse

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Fritz Hansen has unveiled one of its most playful designs – the Rocking Horse – after it was revived from the archives by the company’s heritage team. The Danish design firm’s archives held two small photos of the rocking horse, but there was no information on the toy-maker or original edition. The exact origins of the toy remains a mystery – but research revealed that it was likely made by an artisan from the workshop for a child or grandchild. The photos proved to be a testament to Fritz Hansen’s ingenuity, heritage, and craftsmanship, with the design team deciding to embark on a near three-year recreating the rocking horse.

Perfecting the proportions, scale, and details of the piece was essential to staying true to the original design. While traditional rocking horses usually involve mounting the animal to facilitate movement, the design of the original toy incorporated the rocking function into the unique form, making the task even more challenging. To solve the problem, the team turned to music-making for inspiration. They found that centuries-old techniques used in crafting musical instruments like cellos and violins helped them find the right curvature of the piece and create perfect circles and lines – and a fresh perspective helped deliver their desired outcome.

Rocking Horse

Mads-Ulrik Husum, a design developer at Fritz Hansen, highlighted the team’s inspiration by explaining, “Once we started to view the rocking horse as a musical instrument, we had a way to approach the design with a fresh perspective”. Perfecting every detail of the Rocking Horse project, the designers went through over twelve prototypes. Despite the challenges of creating a piece of furniture from just two small photos, the end result is a refined abstraction that is both authentic and familiar to young children. Today, the silhouette of the Fritz Hansen Rocking Horse is made from molded veneer in an homage to material design legend Arne Jacobsen’s stacking chair. Its halyard rope tail is made of the same material as Danish icon Poul Kjærholm’s PK25 and PK4 chairs, contrasted by ears fashioned from leather leftover from Fritz Hansen’s current productions.

Design Gallery
Art Design

Both the “Design Gallery” and “Art Design” keyword are relevant to this blog post. Fritz Hansen’s heritage team found the two small photos that served as the inspiration for Rocking Horse in an old furniture catalogue. The Rocking Horse is a piece of furniture that is both a work of art and design, a testament to Fritz Hansen’s craftsmanship, heritage, and ingenuity. It would certainly fit into the collection of any “Design Gallery” or art institution due to its unique design and history, which tells the tale of love for timeless design, love for exceptional craftsmanship, and love of the child for whom it was originally made. The perfection of the proportions, scale, and details of the Rocking Horse also demonstrate the expertise of the artisans who crafted it, and why Fritz Hansen has flourished for 151 years.

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