It all started in a small Danish town in 1929, just before the second world war. Holger Nielsen was newly married and owned a small engineering company that was not making much money. One day his wife asked him to make a rubbish bin for her newly opened hairdressing salon. Eventually, the Danish rubbish bin should conquer the world.
With only his wife’s need in mind he made just one pedal bin. But when both the local dentist and the doctor said they also wanted one, Holger Nielsen started mass producing them. They were called VIPP bins, and over the next 50 years the sturdy pedal bin became a familiar sight in Danish hairdressers, hospitals and surgeries.
The youngest daughter takes over the company
Holger Nielsen was a conservative man, who could never imagine that any of his daughters would take over his engineering workshop. When he died suddenly in 1992, his wife prepared to sell the company. But her youngest daughter, Jette Egelund, could not bear to see her father’s life work disappear.
She took over the company with no previous knowledge of engineering. The job was tough, both financially and personally. The problem mounted up. In the first difficult years she had only a couple of employees. Her marriage broke down, as did the metal press at the workshop. Butte Jette refused to give up.
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For she had the vision: to see her father’s rubbish bin become a designer product.
Danish Rubbish Bin Conquers the World
Jette’s perseverance was eventually rewarded. A visit to Terence Conran in London did not at first lead to a positive response. But Jette was stubborn. She left a bin behind at his office. A week later came the first order for 30 pedal bins!
After a fantastic period of growth, VIPP bins are now sold in designer stores in Europe and the USA. It has even ended up being put in a museum, side by side with other design icons. In 2009, the bin was accepted into the permanent design collection at the MoMA in New York – the only place in the world where the bin is just for decoration.
Danish Rubbish Bin Conquers the World, written by Tor Kjolberg