In 1939, Danish metal turner Holger Nielsen designed a practical rubbish bin. Born out of a simple necessity to help his wife Marie in her hair salon’s daily chores, the design of this pedal bin became the cornerstone upon which a unique family business was built. The demand for the “Vipp bin” increased rapidly, and Holger Nielsen soon found himself catering to an array of clients.

Upon Holger Nielsen’s death in 1992, his youngest daughter Jette Egelund could not bear the idea that her father’s life’s work would simply disappear. She took over the Nielsen’s small workshop with only one employee, but carrying a great reputation for functionality and design. It was Jette who realised that the product had the potential to be sold to private customers in addition to the company’s existing commercial interests and so she began expanding Vipp’s sales endeavours with unmatched vigour. Jette’s son, Kasper Egelund, was at business school studying design and communications, when he took a part-time job with his mother to contribute to sales and marketing.

Today, the family business is one year short of its 75th birthday and Kasper Egelund is the CEO of Vipp. Together with his mother and sister, he has transformed the family enterprise. The Vipp bin has become an icon of the art world, the company’s product range has expanded dramatically and the happy marriage between utility and form for which Holger Nielsen laid the foundation remains. The Vipp bin has become a product of international repute due to the family’s unconventional branding strategy: The bin was reinterpreted by different artists and designers around the world. The creations were auctioned off and the proceeds distributed to various charities. Among the most prominent brands and artists trying their hand at the Vipp bin’s design are Philippe Starck, Karim Rashid, Nicole Farhi, Agnes B., Christian Lacroix, Swarovski, Calvin Klein and Ralph Lauren, in addition to others. In 2009, the Egelund family was honoured with the acceptance of the Vipp bin into the architecture and design collection of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City.

Interview with Kasper Egelund, CEO of Vipp

Tharawat magazine discovers the secrets of a family business that designed a bin, and created art.