Danish Mid-Century Modern Furniture, Key Pieces
Mid-Century Modern is a design movement in interior, product, graphic design, architecture, and urban development that was popular from roughly 1945 to 1975 in post-war America and Europe.
Adopting mass-production techniques and concentrating on form rather than just function, Scandinavian designers attracted great success during this time period. For the Danish in particular, this period represented a golden age for furniture design where many were able to make a name for themselves.
Many of the iconic Danish pieces of this time period are exposed at the Designmuseum Danmark in Copenhagen.
Inpsired by Lars Dybdahl’s own book on Danish Modern Design, I decided to curate a series of pieces that to me represent the Danish classics of this design movement.
Hans J. Wegner
1950 Flag Halyard Chair
When it was released the unusual combination of rope, painted and chromed steel and sheepskin in the Flag halyard chair had never been seen before in the furniture industry. It was a way for Wegner to demonstrate his ability to design innovative, practical and comfortable furniture with every possible material. (HGallery)
1950 Wishbone Chair
With a form that is uniquely its own, the iconic CH24 Wishbone Chair by Hans J. Wegner holds a special place in the world of modern design.
Over time, the Wishbone Chair has gained recognition as the ideal chair, capturing the essence of modern Danish design. (Carl Hansen & Søn)
1952 Cow Horn Chair
The short ‘horns’ of the cow horn chair provide a place to rest one’s elbows and make it possible to pull the chair all the way in (to the dining table). The small pieces of wood embedded in the top rail, a feature that Wegner uses here for the first time, add distinction as wel as a larger surface for gluing. (Lars Dybdahl, Furniture Boom)
1963 Shell Chair
The CH07 Shell Chair was created in 1963, but the design was ahead of its time and therefore has patiently waited for the spotlight for a number of decades. Today, it is considered one of Hans J. Wegner’s most iconic and groundbreaking designs. (Carl Hansen & Søn)
1958 Spanish Chair
The chair was launched in 1958, as part of an innovative living space exhibition, in which all tables were removed from the floor to create an open living space. (Spanish Chair)
Aksel Bender Madsen and Ejner Larsen
1949 Metropolitan Chair
The first version of the chair had a seat woven in cane but a year later a version with an upholstered seat was produced (Danish Design Review)
1940 Pelican Chair
In no other design of his is Finn Juhl’s fascination for surrealism more apparent than in the Pelican Chair. Out of all of his many designs, the Pelican Chair was probably the one furthest ahead of its time. When it was presented at the Copenhagen Cabinetmakers’ Guild Exhibition in 1940, it stood out with its unusual shape and sturdy legs. (House of Finn Juhl)
Very few were manufactured and the chair was almost forgotten until we rediscovered and relaunched the chair in 2001.
The characteristic soft and organic shape is almost like a body holding a body. When you sit down, the chair practically gives you a friendly hug. Like many of Finn Juhl’s later designs, the chair offers several comfortable ways to sit. (House of Finn Juhl)
1955 Series 7 Chair
Of all the chairs (imported to Brussels, Luxemburg, and France) it was the Ant and the bestselling Series 7 Chair that won global fame and prevalence, not only in private homes, kitchens, and dining rooms but, atypically, also in auditoriums and study rooms, in canteens, cafes and cafeterias and in churches, offices, receptions, and other public locations.
Gradually the chairs appeared in muitple colors. (Lars Dybdahl, Furniture Boom)
1957 Swan Chair
The Swan Chair and the Drop Chair that follows are both pieces designed by Arne Jacobsen in the late 1950s for the SAS Royal Hotel in Copenhagen, a hotel designed entirely by him.
The influence from Eero Saarinen’s Tulip Chair is evident in the Swan, the first of Jacobsen’s foam plastic shells, but in their lines and mutual interplay, the forms are richer and have greater vitality. (Lars Dybdahl, Furniture Boom)
1959 Drop Chair
In 1956, Danish master Jacobsen was given the opportunity to build ‘the world’s first design hotel’ — the twenty-two storey SAS Royal Hotel, Copenhagen — known all over the world as the hotel in which the architect designed every detail.” (The World’s First Design Hotel)
1960 Panton Chair
In the range of visually stirkcing products and vibrantly colourful rooms and interiors that Verner Panton created from the second half of the 1950s on, he consisstently explored the innovative potential of syntethic materials and cutting-edge technology.
In correspondence with the geometric shapes of Art Concret and in step with the anti-conformist colour system that he developed, the circle, the triangle and the square along with the sphere, the cone and the cube became primary figures throughout Panton’s production. (Lars Dybdahl, Furniture Boom)
1963 GJ Bow Chair
In 1963, Grete Jalk won a British furniture competition — the Daily Mail International Furniture competition with her moulded plywood chair the GJ Bow Chair. That same year, the chair was bought by the Museum of Modern Art in New York where it has remained on permanent exhibition until this day. (Grete Jack)
The so-called GJ chair is constructed of two folded plywood pieces. The deceptively simple construction was achieved through such a complex process of lamination that only about three hundred were produced in the 1960s (the design was reissued in 2009). (MoMA)