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.
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Recent News: Danish Modern Furniture
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Mid-century house in Olympia aims for National Register of Historic PlacesThe Olympian, May 26th
The basement's rec room with wet bar channels “Mad Men,” the popular TV series set in the 1960s that has generated interest in mid-century modern furniture and design. Even the doorknob in the center of the house's front door has attracted interest...Read more
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If furnishings, architectural salvage and up-cycled pieces are your thing, Chairs Downstairs sells out of a classic restored Airstream trailer offering reupholstered furniture, Old Modern Glam converts old vintage antiques to modern home furnishings...Read more
Mid-century modernWaterloo Cedar Falls Courier, May 26th
Sleek lines and geometric shapes are hallmarks of the mid-century movement. Furniture from this era is characterized by clean, straight lines which play up the natural beauty of the design. Pieces that are stripped down to a simple form often speak...Read more
Restaurant Review: Aquavit in MidtownNew York Times, May 26th
Aquavit is, among other things, a showroom for the graceful curves of Scandinavian design, from Erik Bagger's elegant flatware to Arne Jacobsen's swooping egg chairs. But one night, as the meal rounded the corner into its third hour, my lower back...Read more
Electronic cigarette explodes; porn actors protest; bleach attack charge droppedArizona Daily Star, May 26th
PORTLAND, Ore. — After years of negotiations and some help from former Gov. John Kitzhaber, a Chicago-based developer has secured an unprecedented deal to swap land with the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department on the southern Oregon coast...Read more
Jacob Jensen, Designer in Danish Modern Style, Dies at 89New York Times, May 21st
Young Jakob left school after the seventh grade, trained as an upholsterer and worked for a time in his father's furniture workshop, where he designed chairs. He later attended the School of Arts and Crafts, now part of the School of Design of the...Read more
Delaware Spaces: Mid-century modern in Spring ValleyThe News Journal, May 20th
Before you moved here, you had country antique furnishings. Then you began to be more aware of mid-century modern? Yes. I've kept the antiques but tried to incorporate them with the newer mid-century modern things I bought. I just love it. People who...Read more
Portfolio: Danish ModernHome & Design Magazine (blog), April 27th
Few countries have produced a more specific design aesthetic than Denmark. For most people, the term “Danish Modern” conjures ready images of light wood surfaces, expanses of white and sleek, contemporary furniture. To the owners of a mundane raised ...Read more