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

Taris Savell: Antiques shop expands on Ninth Ave.
Pensacola News Journal, April 26th

Time and Time Again Antiques & Restoration has moved to 4006 N. Ninth Ave. from its former Navy Boulevard location. "This is perfect for us," founder/co-owner Karin Feagles said. "We wanted to specialize in mid-century modern furniture and furnishings...Read more

From High Point Market to home
Sentinel & Enterprise, April 24th

If you're not inspired by High Point North Carolina's furniture market -- where the newest styles and hottest trends for the home draw furniture buyers from all over the world -- you're in the wrong business. This is when High Point, a city just about...Read more

Coast Modern: Bullish on the Small Brands
Apparel News, April 23rd

There's Danish Modern furniture and their own clothing line, Unidas. It features T-shirts with architecturally inspired graphic designs. More than a decade ago, Bryce Cole co-founded two separate branded boutiques called Suburban and Mooks on Los ...Read more

A Sneak Peek at the Airy New Untitled and Its Sibling Studio Cafe at the Whitney
Eater NY, April 23rd

But where the interior of Santina is entirely a Torrisi team creation, the interior of Untitled was also designed by Piano, all the way down to the furniture. Most of that furniture isn't in place yet, but there are a few cushioned, mid-century modern...Read more

Elverhoj Museum to go 'Danish Modern'
Lompoc Record, April 16th

This is the first in a new series of occasional events Elverhoj will be presenting under the title of “Danish Modern.” Many think of furniture design and architecture when picturing modern Danish lifestyle and culture. Yet today, Denmark is perhaps...Read more

Design Power Couple Renovates a Medieval Croatian Fortress
Curbed National, April 7th

Every single construction material and piece of furniture had to be ferried across from the mainland and then carried 190 steps by hand," Rees Roberts says. So what ... Florence Knoll dining table / desk *check* Danish Modern swan chair *check*. So bored...Read more

Talking to the Man Who Introduced Danish Modern Design to America
New York Magazine, April 5th

If you own a piece of Danish Modern furniture — or your parents or grandparents do, because it was the dominant contemporary style of the '50s and '60s — there's a good chance that the tag underneath reads JENS RISOM DESIGN. It's not going too far to ...Read more

Danish modern is right in style
Quad City Times, April 5th

At right is an example of the "round chair" designed by Hans Wegner. Round chairs were used by the candidates during the Nixon-Kennedy presidential debates. They were chosen for their comfort. At left is an example of Wegner's "Y" chair. Both are on ...Read more