Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Joakim Lassen, and I’m the owner and Managing Director of Montana Furniture. My father, Peter J. Lassen, founded Montana, so the Montana DNA runs in my veins. My family has a long history of working with furniture, and I’m the fifth generation to work with furniture. My great-grandfather was the Danish furniture manufacturer Fritz Hansen.
As the Managing Director of Montana, I believe that one of the most important responsibilities of my job is to ensure that our culture and values are applied throughout the organization. Montana has a flat and non-hierarchical organization with a lot of interaction between managers and employees. I work closely with the management team to ensure that the scope of our strategy is sustainable and effective. Besides that, product development is an area I am passionate about that I work on together with a competent team.
Montana and Bolon share the unique feature of being a family company - what strengths/upsides do you see with this? Or perhaps challenges?
As a smaller family-owned company, we can make quick decisions and react quite fast. We are not bound to do things in specific ways – we work from a clear set of objectives and have competent and trusted employees who make the necessary decisions within their areas and fields, which makes us very agile. As I've been on the Montana journey since the beginning, we are very close to the brand's history and the Montana DNA, as we like to call it. I also think that being a family company has affected our culture positively, as we see ourselves as a Montana family, which means that people tend to stay and work for Montana for many years.
What’s the difference between Montana back in the 80’s and today?
In the 80s, our product offering was different – we were exclusively a shelving brand. Today, Montana still has a strong presence within shelving, but we have also turned into a furniture brand that offers chairs, tables, nightstands, kids’ furniture, and a whole lot more. Furthermore, today Montana is a furniture brand that targets both private and professionals. Throughout our progress, design and colours have always been at the top of our agenda, and today we like to think of colours as our trademark. Another factor that has always been of high importance to Montana is our focus on our environmental responsibilities. Since more than 25 years ago, we introduced our own set of environmental accounts in consultation with The Danish Environmental Protection Agency.
It might be a worn-out question but still an important one - what drives you?
What drives me personally is to keep ensuring that Montana stays relevant even when time changes. In the 80s, we were all about books and LPs, whereas today is about open storage solutions, TV furniture and nightstands, to name a few. Moreover, I’ve earlier worked as an environmental consultant, which is a subject that I still carry with me, so it has always been a driving factor for me to run the business responsibly in the best possible way.
Speaking of colour, what’s your favourite? Why?
At Montana, one of our mantras is that a colour is no better than the company it is in, and I’m a true believer in that. Therefore, I like many colours. What’s unique about our palette today is that you can, as Margrethe Odgaard puts it, “take a walk with the colours”. In that way, many colours are relevant because they can be mixed and matched and appeal differently to our visual senses and emotions.
What would you say is the colour of Montana?
Colours are paramount in our design, and just as the modules offer infinite possibilities for combination, the colours also need to be able to be mixed and matched. Montana has a colour for any purpose – for example, you might want different colours for your bedroom than your kitchen – depending on the ambience and atmosphere you want to create.
What is your strongest memory connected to colour?
One of my strongest memories connected to colour is a memory from my childhood with Verner Panton. On the northern coast of Seeland, in the small village Hornbæk, Verner Panton had a house where each room had its own bright colour – blue, orange, red, for instance. The house’s facade was a vivid green, and he had a fibreglass cow in wild colours in the garden. I remember how his house was such a contrast to all the other white and grey beach houses in the village. Already at that time, I was inspired by Panton.
Another memory I would like to emphasize is a more recent one on Montana’s 40th anniversary – our colourful mural on the facade of our Factory in Haarby, Funen, by Camille Walala. Our new tagline is "let’s create playful spaces", and we want to nudge the world to use more colours. Therefore, we have transformed our rather dull-looking factory into a colourful statement – just as colourful and playful as the furniture we make inside it.
2022 you celebrated 40 years. Where do you see the company in the next 40 years?
In 40 years, I hope our shelving system is still relevant in design, colour, shape, and function. And that we have kept developing as a furniture brand with a clear identity within colours and design. We want to keep influencing and inspiring the world of interiors with our take on colours, add more colour to the world and create more playful spaces. On top of that, I believe that, in 40 years, we still have environmental responsibilities as an integrated part of our business.