Softline was established in 1979 as a division of K. Balling-Engelsen a/s, producer of polyurethane (PU) foam and sub-supplier to the Nordic furniture industry. The founding of Softline created synergy and new business areas out of the processing of PU foam, so that it could be utilised in a range of innovative, functional furniture for modern lifestyles. The company’s profile was refined further in the 1980s, when Softline began to collaborate with designer Kurt Brandt. Among other things, he created the Pax sofa bed, one of the company’s first big sales successes. The Pax sofa could be transformed into a double bed in one movement, a combination of design and functionality that was groundbreaking. Kurt Brandt had a unique ability to exploit the attributes of foam materials to the maximum, and he created a whole series of trendsetting furniture throughout the 1980s and 1990s. The Diva sofa and Solo relax chair are good examples of the attractive, sculptural and timeless products that elevated Softline into a leading position in the market for modern furniture. The success spread quickly in the 1980s and 1990s from Denmark to the export markets, particularly Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France and the Benelux countries. Other markets in Europe, the Middle East and Asia also displayed a growing interest in Softline’s products. Following Kurt Brandt’s death in 1997, Softline collaborated with a number of new designers, in part through design competitions held in Denmark. The young designer Flemming Busk participated in one of these in 1999 and today he is one half of designer duo busk+hertzog, who have influenced Softline’s collection with their unique designs. Since then, a number of new designers such as Karim Rashid, Hiromichi Konno, Thomas Müller and Stine Engelbrechtsen have emerged and made their mark on the company’s design profile.
Changes in ownership
In 1981, K. Balling-Engelsen a/s was taken over by the oil company Shell, which sold the company to a Finnish investment company in 2000. In August 2003, the furniture division Softline was sold off via a successful management buyout, and Softline A/S was launched as an independent, privately owned enterprise under the direction of Finn H. Sørensen. Today the company has about 40 employees and provides work for a further 80-90 people employed at companies that supply components for Softline’s furniture. Since 2003, Softline has worked resolutely towards the goal of becoming the leading manufacturer and distributor of Scandinavian-style design furniture. Everyone in the company is focused on design, functionality and quality. Combined with our use of new technology and materials, this results in innovative, high-quality products that match the needs of the individual customer and suit modern lifestyles. The change in ownership has revitalised sales to both the private and contract markets. In addition to furnishing thousands of homes around the world, our furniture has been featured in a succession of prominent projects. For the Danish Broadcasting Corporation, busk+hertzog designed a chair that was presented to Kylie Minogue – this became the Hello chair, which today can be seen in the Danish Museum of Art and Design in Copenhagen as well as the National Gallery in Oslo. The Lotus sofa appears in “Sex and the City”. Grand Prix and Donut were presented as gifts to the Danish Crown Prince and Princess. (Look around the website for further details). Today Softline is a leading design company collaborating with more than 15 top designers and with a design concept divided into four collections.
A passion for design and the joy of living have been Softline’s main inspirations since we started making designer furniture in 1979, and our new range reflects these values. Based on unique design and technical innovation, Softline has developed a new collection of stylish, multifunctional furniture for modern homes and public environments. We collaborate closely with leading international designers, and our new concepts underline Softline’s capacity to respond quickly to the needs emerging from today’s evolving lifestyles. Smart, innovative design at its best. Softline wants to be a leading provider of innovative, functional and high-quality Scandinavian-inspired design furniture. By using new constructions and materials and cooperating closely with internationally recognised designers, we aim to make Softline the first choice for consumers who dream of furnishing their homes with functional designer furniture. We want our innovative design furniture to give users a feeling of optimal value, enjoyment and use of their homes’ precious square metres.