Success is about positive surprises

2014 marks the company's 60th anniversary, during which time Pressalit has developed in line with its core product, the toilet seat.

Strong values and a clear approach to design transformed a carpenter's good idea into an international superbrand. In honour of the anniversary, we look back and also forward at Pressalit in the year 2074.

A cat knocks a pot of glue over a hot radiator, and the sticky mass lies like a blanket over a heap of sawdust at a carpentry workshop. The incident sounds more like an unfortunate accident, but it turned out to be surprisingly positive. A new material had been created, and it was quickly used to turn out the first toilet seats from Pressalit.

Pressalit was founded in 1954 in Ry. It was allegedly the daughter of one of the two founders Christian P. Larsen and Holger Christensen, who came up with the name when she said to her father: "It's just a load of bakelite that you have to press a bit. So why don't you call the company Pressalit?" Over the years the name would become synonymous with quality and design, far beyond Ry's and Denmark's borders.

Black like Ford

During Pressalit's childhood, the company followed Henry Ford's famous quote about the colour of his Ford T-model: "You can have any colour as long as it's black." All Pressalit seats were black until the mid-60s, when white and grey seats also appeared on the product shelves.

At around the same time, Pressalit's proud tradition for design became established in earnest by Danish designers Sigvard Bernadotte and Acton Bjørn, who became known for the Margrethe bowl. The design duo designed the Pressalit Comfort seat, which broke away from the image of what toilet seats should look like and became the company's ticket to the export market.

Since then, a wide range of different designers and artists have contributed to creating unique seats, as design continues to be pinpointed as an important part of Pressalit's DNA. A conviction that good design should be at once attractive, innovative and comfortable to use has turned Pressalit into a superbrand.

Pressalit in 2074

In honour of the 60-year anniversary, a handful of younger employees have put forward their ideas of what Pressalit and the market for toilet seats will look like at the company's next 60th anniversary in 2074.

Is a toilet seat still a toilet?

"Yes but we want to add our own personal touch to everything - print your own seat on a 3D printer. Society is likely to be short of money and hands, so having several generations under the same roof will become the norm. That's why the toilet and bathroom really need to be flexible and suit different cultures, ages and needs."

Will toilet visits continue to be a little taboo?

"Yes we will not be marketing seats with the traditional "you can sit on it for hours at a time reading your paper." It's quite simply too much information. We readily tell our friends when we have a new kitchen or new car, but not a new toilet seat. Toilet visits are very private, and will continue to be."

Will Pressalit's values and foundation change?

"Pressalit will continue to be driven by values. The ability to spot new needs, new materials, new business areas and new markets is key. Family ownership and Danish design will continue to be Pressalit's foundation - our great history with our deep roots is highly marketable. And we hope to retain Danish jobs because we have invested heavily in technology."

In honour of the anniversary, the company's 60-year history has been narrated with words and pictures in a recently released anniversary book. Download the story as an e-book for free