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Peter Lassen dies aged 88

Peter LassenPeter Lassen, former Fritz Hansen ceo, designer and founder of Montana Furniture has died. He was 88.

After a brief illness he passed away peacefully on 15 August at his home in northern Zealand, Denmark.

He began his career in the navy, where he was trained as a naval officer. In 1954, he joined the furniture company of his wife's family, Fritz Hansen, where he served as ceo from 1975 until 1979, when the company was sold.  

In 1982, Lassen founded Montana Furniture, which is known for its eponymous shelving system with a distinctive design, infinite possibilities and endless colours. In 2015, his son Joakim Lassen took control of the family firm, which will remain in the hands of the family. 

Lassen leaves behind his wife Birgitte Lassen, their three sons, eight grandchildren and one great-grandchild. 

In 1979 Fritz Hansen was sold to Skandinavisk Holding and Lassen left the company and bought the rights for System 60/60. Lassen’s vision was to make shelving and storage furniture less abstract. The storage furniture of the day had straight lines and was heavy and inorganic, making it inflexible as far as furnishing was concerned. As a sculptor starts with an abstract stone, Lassen started with an abstract square box, removed all the unnecessary parts of the box so that it eventually featured rounded edges, missing corners and retracted fronts: Montana's design DNA. He also changed the format of the System 60/60 to measure 69.6 x 69.6 cm. The inner box measurements was made divisbile by 5.7 cm so that the system matched the A4 format. He chose MDF for the new furniture system – the 12 mm thickness made the module light and easy to move around. 

In 1982, production of the new modular system began in an old jam factory on the Danish island of Funen, available in white and anthracite-grey in addition to birch plywood. The system consisted of 36 different modules, available in four depths. The following year new colours were added: blue, yellow, red, light grey, black and brown. The palette gradually expanded, amounting to a total of 42 lacquer colours. 

It was Lassen’s firm believe that sustainability is key to a long-lasting success and ever since the company’s first environmental project with the Danish Environmental Protection Agency in 1992, Montana has focused on enhancing its green practices, both in production and product development. In the spring of 2019, the furniture company was amongst the very first furniture manufacturers in Europe to obtain the recognised EU Ecolabel on the company’s core products. An important milestone in the company’s history which Peter Lassen lived to celebrate. 

Art had always been an important source of inspiration to Lassen. A place to let his thoughts and creativity roam. And for a good reason too: Lassen has art running through his blood. The Danish Golden Age painter Joakim Skovgaard (1856-1933) was Lassen's grandfather. Skovgaard is best known for his decorations in Viborg Cathedral and the painting Christ in the Realm of the Dead at the National Gallery of Denmark. ‘Art fertilizes, gives energy and releases energy,’ Lassen said, and as such, he  was well known to supports different artists and cultural institutions in Denmark and abroad.