The architect, interior and furniture designer Finn Juhl (1912 – 1989) is considered one of the founding fathers of modern Danish design and is widely credited with having popularised Danish design in America.
Born in Copenhagen, Juhl trained as an architect at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts and worked at Vilhelm Lauritzen‘s architectural practice before founding his own design practice in 1945.
Juhl took on a rich variety of interior, exhibition and product designs throughout his career, with clients ranging from Georg Jensen to SAS airlines.
Today, however, he is perhaps best known for the furniture he designed from the late 1930s onwards.
Featuring curvaceous organic forms and chair seats and backs which appear to float within a frame, Juhl’s charismatic designs were initially considered highly radical.
The complexity of their form and construction also required exacting levels of craftstmanship; Juhl was notorious for testing the boundaries of what could be achieved with his favoured material of teak wood.
During the 1950s Juhl’s designs were exhibited in America where they were enthusiastically received. Juhl was subsequently commissioned to design a refrigerator for General Electric as well as glassware, ceramics and furniture for other US companies.
Perhaps his most prestigious commision, however, was to design the interior of the Trusteeship Council Chamber at the UN Headquarters building in New York (undertaken 1950-52).
Juhl’s profile has been somewhat eclipsed in recent years by his peers Hans Wegner and Borge Mogensen, but there is a clear resurgence of interest in his charismatic and timeless designs.
Danish furniture company Onecollection now produces an extensive range of Finn Juhl’s classic furniture, combining modern technology with traditional craftsmanship to meet the exacting standards specified by the designer.
Onecollection’s association with the estate of Finn Juhl originated when Juhl’s widow contacted the company and asked for their help in reproducing his Model 57 sofa.
“One cannot create happiness with beautiful objects,” Juhl is famed for noting, “but one can spoil quite a lot of happiness with bad ones”.
Without wishing to contradict a master designer, we would argue that Finn Juhl’s furniture does instill joy in the hearts of those who appreciate enduring designs.
Hans Wegner is one of a handful of designers who helped to define modern Danish design.
In a career spanning more than seven decades, Wegner worked quietly and consistently on a remarkable range of designs that were to transform the domestic aesthetic and become coveted classics.
Above all, Wegner was a master craftsman with a keen understanding of the properties and potential of natural materials. He was apprenticed to a carpenter at the age of 17 before studying at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts and subsequently training as an architect, and throughout his career he would sketch, model and then hand-build the prototypes for his designs.
Designed in 1957, the CH 33 chair exemplifies Wegner’s profound appreciation of wood as well as his consideration for the end user. This exceptionally light, comfortable and stable chair has a rounded, organic form that gently embraces the sitter.
“A chair is to have no backside,” Wegner pronounced: “It should be beautiful from all sides and angles.”
The CH 33 fulfills this design criteria while elegantly expressing the innate qualities of the materials and the processes used in its production. The legs and cross pieces are broadest where they support load-bearing joints and fluidly taper where the distribution of weight allows.
The visible joints where the backrest fixes to the back legs are another Wegner hallmark – a small but emphatic detail that celebrates the skill and craft involved in making this chair.
Wegner described the evolution of the “Danish style” as “a continuous process of purification, and of simplification, to cut down to the simplest possible elements of four legs, a seat and combined top rail and arm rest.”
The CH 33 represents a key point in this pursuit of purity and simplicity of form while its distinct sculptural qualities anticipate Wegner’s more expressive works of the 1960s, such as the CH 07.
Unsurprising then, that when Carl Hansen & Son celebrated the anniversary of Wegners birth in 2014, they did so by releasing a special edition of the CH 33 in oak and walnut.
The Anniversary CH 33 pays homage to Wegner’s fondness for mixing different woods in his designs. The combination of light and dark wood also serves to highlight the chair’s physical construction and gracefully emphasises the craftmanship that was central to Wegner’s design philosophy.
The ideal chair, Wegner mused with characteristic modesty, “does not exist. The good chair is a task one is never completely done with.” As a result, Wegner designed over 500 chairs in the course of his career.
When asked what his other interests were, his daughter Marianne (who was to take over his studio when Wegner retired in the 1990s) laughingly replied: “Apart from furniture? None.”
Carl Hansen & Son is currently offering a special promotion on a selection of chairs designed by Wegner – including the CH 33. Until 11th December, customers will be able to order five chairs and receive a sixth chair free.
Despite its name, the Tired Man chair is a robust and characterful piece of design that is currently enjoying something of a resurgance.
This charismatic and capacious easy chair was designed by Danish architect and designer Flemming Lassen, who submitted it for the Copenhagen Cabinetmakers’ Guild Competition in 1935. Born in 1902, Lassen was at the vanguard of the Danish modern movement, working alongside Arne Jacobsen on projects such as the pioneering House of the Future and Søllerød Town Hall.
But this dedicated follower of the International Style clearly had a softer side, describing his intention to design a chair that would make its occupant feel “as warm and safe as a polar bear cub in the arms of its mother in the middle of the ice cap.”
An immediate success on its initial launch, the Tired Man chair has been consistently recognised as a landmark in modern chair design.
In 2014, a Tired Man chair upholstered in lambskin was sold at auction in Denmark for more than 190,000 euros, becoming the most expensive chair ever sold at auction in that country.
Now, 80 years after it was first designed, the Tired Man has been relaunched by Danish company by Lassen – the family-run company dedicated to preserving the design legacy of Flemming Lassen and his brother Mogens, an equally talented designer.
And in a twist that Flemming Lassen would doubtless appreciate, the reissued Tired Man chair has just been shortlisted in the Comeback of the Year category at the 2015 Danish Design Awards.
Of course, many would argue that this icon of Danish design never really went away.
Storage is a perennial problem in most households, so any shelving system that combines adaptability, flexibility and efficiency with sheer good looks is sure to stand the test of time.
The dk3 Royal System is just such a product. It was designed in 1948 as the world’s first wall-hung furniture system, immediately establishing itself as an exemplary twentieth century shelving system and a landmark in Danish design – and it remains as popular as ever in the present day.
Celebrated Danish designer Poul Cadovius developed the original concept for the Royal System in 1948 as a means of freeing up valuable floor space from ever-increasing clutter.
As Cadovius observed, ‘Most of us live on the bottom of a cube. If we were to use the walls in the same way we use the floor, we would get more space to live in.’
Cadovius’s pioneering design was an international success, thanks to its pared back elegance and peerless adaptability.
This modular system of handsome shelves, cupboards and work station units could be configured to suit each unique living environment – and then extended or reconfigured as required to accommodate changes in use.
Now relaunched by Danish manufacturers dk3, the Royal System is made to the same exacting standards that ensured its initial success.
In addition to its classic Scandinavian styling and its flexibility, the Royal System is distinguished by its ease of installation.
twentytwentyone is proud to be a stockist of an enduring classic of modern design and a product that has brought order, efficiency and visual delight to countless living and working spaces over the decades.
The Royal System is widely recognised both as a benchmark in twentieth century wall shelving design and as an exemplar of midcentury Danish design. Designed in 1948 by Poul Cadovius and recently relaunched by DK3, it consists of a set of standard shelves and desk, drawer and cupboard units which can be combined to create a personalised storage system.
In addition to its typically streamlined Scandinavian styling, the beauty of the Royal System is that it can be reconfigured or extended with ease to adapt to changes in use. It is exclusively available from twentytwentyone and is currently discounted by 15% in the furniture sale.
Another Country is a relatively young design firm but their products are already being heralded as classics of contemporary design. Inspired by both the British and Scandinavian traditions of woodworking, Dining Table One is a refined yet sturdy centrepiece in solid oak, crafted in Europe and currently 15% off in our designer furniture sale.
The CH 24 is the first chair that Hans Wegner designed for esteemed Danish manufacturers Carl Hansen & Son. Also known as ‘the Wishbone Chair’ on account of its elegantly shaped Y-back, the CH 24‘s gracious curves and enduring appeal have ensured its place in the canon of modern chair design.
Equally iconic, though very different, is the DSW Side Chair designed by Charles and Ray Eames. The original fibreglass version of 1950 was the first industrially manufactured plastic chair; today the DSW Side Chair is licensed to Vitra and is produced in polypropalene.
Immensely popular and much-imitated, this is perhaps the archetype of the modern chair; it is certainly one of the most readily recognisable examples of twentieth-century furniture design. Now available in a range of colours at 15% off in our furniture sale.
The Reflect sideboard, designed by Soren Rose for Danish manufacturer Muuto, is a thoroughly contemporary addition to the classic tradition of Scandinavian design.
The oak unit’s cupboard and drawer fronts have a subtle concave curvature that is enhanced by the play of light, lending an up-to-date twist to an exemplary piece of Danish design which is already a modern classic. Now 15% off in our furniture sale.
Eero Saarinen‘s Tulip table for Knoll is another classic of modern furniture design, with a refinement and purity of form that clearly speak of Saarinen’s early training as a sculptor.
Designed in 1957, this is a genuinely timeless piece that sits with ease and integrity in any variety of settings. Available as a coffee table or dining table in a variety of finishes, now reduced by 15% in our furniture sale.
The Penguin Donkey was designed in 1939 by Egon Riss to hold Penguin paperbacks as well as magazines, newspapers and other books. Despite its slightly comical name, this small storage unit has a distinguished pedigree that links it to some of the stellar names in modern design.
It was manufactured by Isokon, the modernist British architectural and design practice established by Jack Pritchard that also employed Bauhaus luminaries Walter Gropius and Marcel Breuer. Now reissued by Isokon Plus, the Penguin Donkey stands as an icon of modernism in its own right. It is now reduced by 15% in our designer furniture sale.