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Brand Story

"Why can't heaters be as pleasing to the eye as everything else we have in our homes?," Philip Bryn-Haugland is thinking.

It’s 2010. Philip is on a family holiday to the mountain village Nesbyen in Norway. He has just quit his job as an accountant and decided he never wants to do an annual tax return ever again. His father, Cato, has also just told the family that he is thinking of selling Novaplan. Novaplan is the company he founded with his brother in 1992. They have been working with heaters for a number of years, but what now?

Philip envisions all the heaters hanging on walls across the country. Dusty, yellowed with age, put up on freshly painted walls and placed next to the latest trends in interior design. It just doesn’t add up. If we spend so much time and energy on creating beautiful homes, shouldn’t there also be a need for elegantly designed heaters as well?

The Bryn Family knows heaters. After a number of years in the business, they have both the connections and the knowledge needed to succeed. However, Philip and Cato don’t want to sell other companies’ heaters. They want to create their own. Can this family elevate heaters from simply being a “necessary evil” to becoming a product that people actually want to display?

Cato, Philip and Ane at the IFA fair in Berlin.

"Inspiration? No, Philip calls it his gut feeling. If Philip likes it, most people will like it. One of his greatest strengths is that he also knows what appeals to people. Later he will discover that he is, indeed, right about this."

All of a sudden, the future is as clear as the mountain air in Nesbyen. Philip and Cato decide to go for it.

On a cold winter’s day, the heaters start to take shape. Philip can make heating beautiful, and he has a clear vision of how to do it. He imagines heaters that float, that become one with the wall. Heaters that can be moved around on the floor. Heaters with rounded corners and a bowed front. No dusty, discoloured heaters as far as the eye can see. Only black and white. Simple, yet elegant.

Mill-founder Cato Bryn and his wife Maggie.

Mill has already launched both a glass- and a steel heater, and sales are going very well. That their heaters became popular in Norway is not much of a surprise to the Bryn family. After all, the country has stormy autumns and is mostly covered in at least a foot of snow during winter. Norwegians spend almost 90% of their time indoors and are widely known to enjoy their “hygge”. «Hygge» is a Norwegian expression that illustrates typical Norwegian culture of enjoying yourself indoors together.

If you grow up in a cold, rough climate, chances are that you’ll be able to create very efficient heaters. As it turns out, the portable heater that Philip envisioned on that cold winter’s day will be the breakthrough and start of the international Mill adventure.

Obviously the rest of the world also needs beautiful heaters, and because of limited innovation going on in heater designs on the international market, everyone wants the new designer heaters from Norway. The interest does not exactly dwindle when Mill receives the prestigious “Red Dot” design award, as well as glowing recommendations in well-known newspapers and publications internationally.

The innovative spirit is strong in the Mill company. The three employees roll up their sleeves, but when the whole world wants heaters, they need help. Reinforcement comes in and is named Ane. She is Philip’s wife, and is not only fiercely dedicated to working with brands and products, but also a master of getting results. At this point, orders are rapidly coming in from all over the world – from Japan, Korea, the U.S., the Netherlands, and another 20-something countries.

It’s all about Mill. At the family cabin in Nesbyen, conversations are flowing and turning into discussions between father and son, as well as between husband and wife. These discussions result in new ideas.

Being beautiful is not enough. Their products have to be smart as well. The elegant front panels of their heaters all of a sudden get the addition of hidden WiFi and technology that give people the ability to control their heaters through an app, no matter where they are in the world. In just a few years, the app becomes the best-liked heating control app in the Nordic countries. Mill’s ambitions are no longer just to design new products – now, it’s just as important to create good customer experiences and to be in the lead when it comes to technology.

Resting? No, that’s not for the Bryn family. There’s simply too much to do, to develop and to improve – they’ll never stop. Their driving force is to create smart, beautiful heaters for the future that will help people save money and the environment, and to be comfortably warm at home. Rest is not on their agenda.