Vintage Danish Modern Style Furniture

Danish Modern tables and chairs, desks and dressers, and other types of furniture from the postwar period are recognizable for their simple, elegant, and airy forms. Many of the pieces, which were typified by their clean, sweeping lines, were of very high quality. As a result, excellent examples of vintage Danish Modern furniture are still available in usable condition.

One of the most influential Danish Modern designers was Arne Jacobsen, whose early work was itself influenced by the output of Charles and Ray Eames in the late 1940s, when Mid-century Modern was just beginning to flower. Jacobsen’s successful, stackable, and space-saving Ant chair from 1952 had three metal legs and was made out of a single piece of molded plywood. Other pieces, such as the 7 Chair from 1955, were even more like the work of the Eameses.

In 1957, a purely Jacobsen aesthetic arrived with the release of the Swan chair, which wrapped its users in a palm-like embrace. The interior of the chair was constructed of a fiberglass shell, which was then covered in foam rubber and upholstered in either a stretch fabric or leather. Jacobsen’s Egg chair from 1958 enveloped the sitter to an even greater extent, creating a mini-interior space out of just a single piece of furniture.

Finn Juhl was a contemporary of Jacobsen. He took a more sculptural approach with his wood-frame seats and couches, whose backs were often asymmetrical. His 1949 Chieftain chair, with leather seats and backs, and tongue-like leather flaps on the wooden arms, is one of his rarest pieces. Fewer than 100 of these handsome chairs were made, mostly for Danish embassies.

Hans Wegner got his start in Jacobsen’s office, but he quickly made a name for himself in the world of Danish furniture design and beyond. His Peacock chair from 1947 was a riff on the classic Windsor chair, with a wider cord seat and a fuller, radiating back. But Wegner is probably best known for the 1949 Round chair, which was so highly regarded it was used by Nixon and Kennedy in a 1960 presidential debate. Today it is known simply as The Chair.

Børge Mogensen designed office furniture, from desks to chairs, of elegant simplicity that harmonized form with functionality. His teak Shell chair from 1949 seemed constructed out of the sort of organic shapes one might find in the sand at the beach. Mogensen’s low-slung Hunt chair from 1950 was more straightforward, while his Sleigh chair from 1953 was a confection in white, with sled-like feet and pointed arms that were just whimsical enough to suggest use by a certain jolly bearded man in a red coat.

Verner Panton is a Danish bridge to the swinging 1960s. In 1954, Panton made a chair entirely out of a single piece of molded plywood, so that the legs, seat, and back formed an S. The pieces were too heavy to be practical, more like examples of sculpture than seating. But technology caught up with Panton in the 1960s, when the U.S. furniture maker Herman Miller produced a similar-looking Panton chair out of molded plastic. In the 1960s, Panton explored the cone shape, designing a table that rested on an inverted cone, as well as a cone-shaped chair made of zinc wire, whose see-through frame held a vibrantly colored cushioned seat and backrest.

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)



This archived overview produced by the Minneapolis Institute of Arts offers thumbnail sketches of the design moveme… [read review or visit site]

Herman Miller Consortium Collection

Herman Miller Consortium Collection

This website showcases several hundred pieces of furniture, held by thirteen museums, that were designed for Herman… [read review or visit site]

Buffalo Architecture and History

Buffalo Architecture and History

Chuck LaChiusa's wonderful guide to the architecture and history of Buffalo, NY, also happens to host an impressive… [read review or visit site]

The Mid Century Modernist

The Mid Century Modernist

Stephen Coles' really visual blog dedicated to the Modernist era of design from 1940 to 1970 (aka Mid-century Moder… [read review or visit site]



This beautiful site showcases the collection of Stanley and Polly Stone of Fox Point, Wisconsin, consisting of earl… [read review or visit site]

Kentucky Online Arts Resource

Kentucky Online Arts Resource

This huge online database from the Speed Art Museum is a rich trove of beautiful photos and reference information o… [read review or visit site]

Steven Cabella's personal homage to Charles and Ray Eames. This site is as clean and visually appealing as the Eame… [read review or visit site]

Work of Charles and Ray Eames

Work of Charles and Ray Eames

This Library of Congress microsite is an overview of the postwar modern design work of Charles (1907-78) and Ray (1… [read review or visit site]

Classic Modern

Classic Modern

Get a taste of how homes were lit in the 50s, 60s, and 70s with the Danish retro-style lighting designs featured on… [read review or visit site]

Other Great Reference Sites

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Recent News: Danish Modern Furniture

Source: Google News

More decorating and life lessons learned in 2014, December 22nd

In transitional interiors, you might see an oil painting in a gilded frame next to a clean-lined mid-century modern sofa. In a contemporary space, you will find modern lines, color, area rugs and pillows. Lesson: You can have the best of both...Read more

Home Help: Home safety tips for a safe and happy winter season, December 21st

The retro panache of mid-century modern decor will perk up rooms with its soft, sculptural lines, woven upholstery and bright accessories in geometric shapes. Search for vintage furniture pieces like rounded chairs and button-cushion couches with short...Read more

Santa toy antiques
Observer-Reporter, December 20th

Writers and toymakers have modernized the Christmas story in several ways – with a train to the North Pole, an airplane, an early car, modern cars and even Santa in a rocket or spaceship. Of course, some still wonder how he can go around the world...Read more

Museum & Gallery Listings for Dec. 19-25
New York Times, December 19th

Historic house and modern museum have always made an awkward fit, a standoff between preservation and innovation, and the problem remains, but the renovation has brought a wide-open new gallery space, a cafe and a raft of be-your-own-designer digital...Read more

Texture, built-ins, art transform '80s box into a home
San Francisco Chronicle, December 18th

The guest bedrooms' small footprints called for furniture with an open feel. For instance, floating wall-mounted storage shelves from CB2 serve as nightstands, flanking a minimal steel Parsons bed ... now has a couple of very satisfied clients. Says...Read more

Happy Ending Reopens on the Lower East Side
New York Times, December 17th

The restaurant and bar (61 seats) are warm and vaguely psychedelic Danish modern. “We made a list of what we ... Downstairs is your swinger uncle's sleazy rumpus room, with fuzzy furniture, a checkerboard floor and disco ball. THE CROWD. For now, it is ...Read more

Real, fake mix in Katarina Burin's homage to early female designer
SFGate, December 17th

The viewer becomes part of the exhibit, which spans several rooms and includes faux walls, life-size sketches of generic people an architect would include in drawings, and Mid-Century Modern furniture. The atmosphere is minimalist, with a forced...Read more

The beauty (and staying power) of Mid-Century Modern
LancasterOnline, December 8th

The lyrics from Nat King Cole's 1951 hit “Destination Moon,” penned years before Sputnik and lunar landings, could very well have set the tone for the furniture known as “Mid-Century Modern,” a look you think would be dated but has never lost its cool...Read more