Thursday, July 11, 2013


Fritz Hansen is a Danish Furniture company that has been making high quality, designer chairs & tables for well over a century.  They have an excellent web site with  lots of downloadable files, both 2d & 3d ... BUT ... no Revit files.

Late last year I was working with our ID department on a schools project.  It involved making some furniture families, including the FH series 7 chair.  Now the ID guys are still clinging to their 2d drafting blanket & it's clear to me that we will need a good furniture library to lure them into the Revit fold.  So I downloaded a whole bunch of DWG files & started to embed them into families.  I know ... shock horror ... but sometimes it's least painful option when you need an ID friendly BIM object.

About 3 weeks ago Steve Stafford posted about BlueBryk.  This looks to be a terrific initiative by Bruce Madsen and apart from the amazing database has a lot of very sensible things to say about Revit content.

Anyway this post is directed partly at Fritz Hansen themselves.  Please give us your wonderful furniture in RFA format so that we can persuade more clients to buy it.  Wherever possible they should contain native Revit geometry.  There are some examples below.  For the more freeform shapes, this will be difficult.  Second best is solid geometry from another application brought into Revit in SAT format.  (with Revit 2014 it is possible to explode this into a native solid).  Third best is a CAD mesh (such as the ones I downloaded from your site)  There are several examples below, along with suggestions on how best to do this.

Surface mesh geometry is far from ideal, but if that is all you have, put it into a family to keep us going while you develop a version based on solids.

It is important to have different materials on different layers.  These will translate to sub-categories within Revit which can then be assigned to materials using object styles.  It is helpful to give end users the ability to adjust the materials within your families to suit their presentation needs.

 We don't want to see the triangulation of the mesh in plan views, so it is also important to use symbolic lines & masking regions so that your families look crisp and clean in construction documents.  This can also be extended to front & side views.  You alread have CAD files for these views in most cases, so it is not a big effort to generate the required drafting.  Having said that, some of your elevation views carry too much fine detail in my opinion.  I prefer to keep things relatively simple and lightweight, for clarity at a variety of scales.

Moving on to native Revit geometry.  I tackled the Series 7 stacking chair.  This is a little challenging because it features curvature in 2 directions.  But it is possible to achieve something which is quite acceptable and will look good in shaded or rendered 3d views.  I started by sweeping a curved profile along a curved path.  This will create a "bent rectangle".

What remains is to cut away the edges.  I tried out 2 different methods.  Both use void extrusions to cut away the unwanted material.  The first method uses a single void and gives clean edges, but the edges formed are not at right angles to the top surface.  The second method uses two extrusions, giving a squarer cut, but with some interference in the middle where the two extrusions overlap.

Actually, if you look carefully you will see that I added a third void (along the front edge)  The difference between the two methods is more clearly seen in a side elevation view.  The results are not 100% accurate, but they are perfectly fine for our Interior Design department to use for both visualisation & documentation.  And in this case there is no need to use drafting in orthographic views.  The Revit geometry itself gives a sharp enough edge and a clean enough graphic representation.

My second example is a modular sofa set.  Again I used the downloaded CAD as a guide to accuracy. The seat and back cushions are made as sideways extrusions.  For softer edges and a gentle curve in the 3rd dimension, I used void sweeps with a path created by picking the edge of the extrusion.

The seat/back then becomes a nested component in the final families, duplicated appropriately for the 2 & 3 seater versions.  The side cushions and legs are fairly straightforward to make and once more there are modular components for use in all 3 versions.

I went on to make some office tables.  These are very nicely detailed in my view, and the modular approach that has been taken for manufacturing reasons is also very helpful when making Revit families.

I also made a parametric family for a series of desks that are quite similar to the ones we have in our office.  Basically, the spacing of the legs and the overall length of worktop respond to separate parameters in order to generate the full series of types from a single family.

So I haven't modelled the complete Fritz Hansen range, but I have demonstrated that one person can make significant inroads into that task in just a couple of days.   In the spirit of open collaboration espoused by Bluebryk, I am making the best of these families available for download.  If Fritz Hansen would like to a copy of the whole file, I would be happy to provide this, on the understanding that they will offer Revit families for free download from their web site in due course.

You can find the downloads at the link below

Fritz Hansen Furniture Families


  1. Andy, same effort I have done modeling iconic chairs from the manufacturers: Knoll, Fritz Hansen, Vitra, Herman Miller, Carl Hansen and Son, Cassina, Artek, Adelta... You should see my Revit Swat blog to check them out.

  2. Hi Kelvin

    Yes I have seen the images on your site, they look great, but I couldn't see a way to download any of the families. Do you intend to share some of this work ?

  3. I was planning to write a story about creating each piece but just don't have the time. This series of posts is on my wish list. Certainly I would like to share some pieces once I have finished the series.

  4. Yeah, time is a problem. It would be great if more good looking furniture was freely available to the global Revit community. One of those small pieces that is missing from the jigsaw puzzle at present. Although to be fair the likes of Steelcase, Herman Miller & Haworth have made a substantial contribution.

  5. Andy,

    While I agree with you about seeing more manufacturer offer their "free" content, their quality and standard vary from one to another. Many create their own object, or have import category. Some have their own material naming standard. By the time one brought in all those families into one project, you introduce many more unnecessary style in your project. What needs to happen is to have gobal Revit standard that manufacturer comply.

    Philip Chan

  6. Thanks Philip, yes, valid comments. My own viewpoint is to encourage manufacturers to get involved, to demonstrate (as experienced users) how we would like families to be made, and to open up the discussion on standards. It will take time, but it is a journey worth taking.

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  11. Hi Andy
    Just wondering if you could please send me the Revit file of the Fritz Hansen FAVN sofa you have in the very bottom image of this post. I tried converting the cad file Fritz Hansen offers but had no success. I'm in desperate need of a working Revit file of this piece of furniture and would be really appreciate it if you could help me out.

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