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Our story

The manufactory for furniture and kitchens was founded by Jan Cray, a trained mechatronics engineer and eponym, in Hamburg in 2013, initially producing his first tables for friends in a small workshop in Hamburg Ottensen under the name 6Grad. His minimalist-industrial design quickly found other buyers and he developed a complete collection with matching benches and chairs. He tells us how it all began:

"There are those moments in life when you know exactly what you want. I had this feeling when I inherited an old single-door wardrobe from my parents. I followed my impulse and first disassembled the wardrobe into all its individual parts. I took a close look at the old wooden joints of the piece of furniture and was fascinated by the material and the way it was made. The subsequent restoration was so much fun that it was clear to me: I want to make something with my hands. Preferably furniture."

Looking back, I had a rather unusual childhood back then: In the seventies, my family moved to the grounds of a former hunting chateau in Lower Saxony. My father was a manager there and we lived self-sufficiently in an adjoining building, very close to nature and, above all, creative: fruit, vegetables, but also things like furniture, all came from our own hands. And I couldn’t have done it better: Putting ideas into practice was in my cradle.

Eine Familie mit drei Kinder in einem Selbstversorgergarten im Jahr 1986
Summer 1986: Blond Jan with his sisters Charlotte and Anna and his parents in the self-catering garden in the Schaumburg forest.

You might think it doesn’t take much to build good furniture and kitchens. But it even takes a lot. Above all, it needs know-how, a lot of passion and respectful handling of the materials. Things that became more and more noticeable to me over the years: whether as an intern in a small carpentry shop in Wales, as a part-time job for an experienced furniture restorer near Lüneburg and finally as a self-taught interior designer in southern Europe – I simply loved the craft.

Finally, the desire to set up my own business in Hamburg solidified. However, not as a mechatronics engineer, the profession I had learned and practised for a few years. Instead, I actually followed my calling and founded the furniture manufactory Jan Cray in 2013. At this point, furniture making and the associated many ideas for beautiful living and working environments had been with me for almost fifteen years. It’s great that I can now use the knowledge of mechanical engineering and metal production I acquired during my training on a daily basis. As meaningful as it may sound: Jan Cray as a company is somehow also an arrival for me.

Ultimately, it stands for everything that is also important to me as a person. And so, in the end, every piece of furniture is not only a typical piece of Jan Cray, but above all a typical piece of Hamburg: authentic, down-to-earth, reliable and connected to its nature as well as its home – but not least the result of a great passion that I share with my team and my partners. We are all passionate about our craft and want our furniture to make you feel as at home anywhere as we do.

In the meantime, the Jan Cray manufactory has moved its production from Altona to the surrounding area of Hamburg. In our new workshop we have much more room for creativity and space for new ideas.

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