Danish architect Arne Jacobsen (1902 – 1971) completed his first own private house 1929, in 1931 an office building, a garage and a green house were added. It was used as a display window of Arne Jacobsen’s work when future clients visited. Inspired by international architecture and architects as Asplund and Le Corbusier, Jacobsen added some of his favourite details. References to the English garden and maritime life appear in the exterior as well as the interior of the house. The house is a national landmark and owned by Realdania.
Architect Poul Henningsen (1894 – 1967), or PH as he is often called, has become synonymous with 20th-century Danish lighting design. Trained at the Copenhagen College of Technology, Henningsen was a proficient inventor, a prolific writer, and a sharp critic of art, architecture and society. PH grew up with his single mother, the Danish writer Agnes Henningsen, in the soft glow of the petroleum lamp. As electrical lighting gained way in the early 1920’s he struggled with the blinding glare from the electric bulb and began to develop a lamp that would have the same soft, relaxing qualities of the petroleum lamp. The result of his efforts, the three shaded PH lamp, represented a long investigation into the properties and effects of light and even to this day, the PH lamp is renowned as one of the highest achievements within incandescent lighting design.
In the decades to follow PH continued to develop new models based on the same basic principles. This led him to the work with the Spiral lamp, designed in 1942 for the main hall in the University of Aarhus in Denmark. The idea of PH was to make it look as if it was drawn in one long stroke. The whole shade is held together by three arms onto which a small angle is brazed at the point where the correct position of the shade was meant to be.
Poul Henningsen died 50 years ago today, but his light design continues to live and inspire.
The Copenhagen showroom is beautiful in the sparse winter light. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to make an appointment if you are visiting Copenhagen.
Finn Juhl was one of the leading designers of the 20th century. He was trained as an architect from the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, Copenhagen and became world-renowned for his organic, expressive and sculptural designs that regenerated Danish furniture art in the 1940s. Juhl wanted his furniture to be able to stand freely in the room – for the structures to be seen from all sides – and the present chair is a refined example of his sculpturing approach, beautiful from every angles. It was deisnged 1955 and made in collaboration with cabinetmaker Niels Vodder.
The SAS Royal Hotel, Copenhagen, opened 1960. It is considered the first designer hotel in the world. Renowned Danish architect Arne Jacobsen designed EVERYTHING, and made a complete Gesamtkunstwerk. Today many features have been replaced, but one of the rooms, the legendary Room 606, still stands as originally envisioned. Entering the room, you will find yourself in a time warp yet everything seems as modern as in many hotels rooms one can visit worldwide today. Designed almost sixty years ago, the hotel in general and Room 606 in particular still inspire. The contrast between the strict modern exterior and the curves in the furniture and accessories designed for the hotel strive to keep the visitor curious and comforted. The materials used in the hotel are as contrasting as the architecture. The warmth in the natural wood opposite cold marble. In the hotel rooms the green and blue colors are combined with wengé wood and steel. The nature outside, the sky, the forest and the nearby sea, seems to be a cohesive part of the hotel, which was very important to Arne Jacobsen. Skilled as he was as an modern architect he still loved nature and integrated it in every project, and today this still inspires.
Kaare Klint is recognized as the founding father of Danish Modernism. As an architect, furniture designer and leading professor at the Department of Furniture Design at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, Klint established the principles of modern Danish furniture by combining a profound appreciation of traditional construction techniques with a modernist emphasis on function and a rejection of ornaments. He had a refined material sensibility and always chose materials with a strong character and allure that would become even more beautiful with age. Klint’s design was based on a relentless research. Every piece had to fulfill its purpose and possess a complete clarity in its construction with dimensions and proportions corresponding to the human body. Like many of his contemporaries, counting Le Corbusier and Walter Gropius, he advocated standardization and functional requirements and dismissed the use of all ornamentation. But Klint realized his vision in handcrafted wood and leather and found his inspiration in historical models. In this way, he charted the course for an alternative Nordic Functionalism that idealized the workshop and the collaboration between furniture architects and cabinetmakers as opposed to the factory. A result of the meticulous work is the addition sofa and bench. Skillful leather work combined with an almost perfect sense of proportion makes the bench multi-functional, beautiful from every angle and very modern.
Ejner Larsen (1917-1987) and Aksel Bender Madsen (1916- 2000) both trained as cabinetmakers and met during their subsequent studies at the Furniture School at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts. After graduating in 1940 they both gained experience from working with established designers – Ejner Larsen for Mogens Koch and Aksel Bender Madsen for Kaare Klint and Arne Jacobsen – before they eventually joined forces and opened an office together in 1947. The close professional partnership was complemented by the collaboration with the skilled cabinetmaker Willy Beck, with whom they worked for nearly 25 years. Throughout the years they remained faithful to the aesthetic sensibility of their professor at the Academy, Kaare Klint. This was reflected in both their rational functionalistic approach and in their sense of materials and craftsmanship. Like Klint they had a preference for precious, exotic wood types, but their finely finished furniture often has a lighter and more organic and soft expression than the furniture designed by their mentor. The Metropolitan Chair is a beautiful result of their work, designed 1959 and with the leather work meticulously made by saddle maker Dahlman.
Arne Vodder ( 1926 – 2009 ) graduated from the Architectural School in Copenhagen in 1947 and established his own office in 1950 together with Anton Borg. He designed furniture for the cabinetmakers Poul Dinesen and Niels Vodder and for furniture companies such as Sibast Møbler and Erik Jørgensens Møbelfabrik. One of his teachers at the Architectural School wasthe highly recognized Danish architect and designer Finn Juhl, who was also Vodder’s employer for a period. The influence from Finn Juhl is reflected in Vodder’s fondness of colours and in the sculptural, organic contours of his chairs, armchairs and sofas. With its soft curves and slenderness, the present sofa testifies to Vodder’s persistent efforts of making his pieces appear light and elegant. Although he shared these efforts in regards to both visual and actual lightness with Finn Juhl, they manifest in slightly differing manners in the respective work of the two architects; Finn Juhl rendered visible the bearing frame and valued the space between the constructional elements, while Vodder’s pieces in general are monolithic. Reducing the upholstery and making the construction lighter also had the practical advantage of making
the pieces easy to move. This made them perfectly adapted to the new flexible interior style of the post war decades.
From the beginning of her career in the early post war years, Nanna Ditzel (1923 – 2005) experimented with new techniques and new materials such as fiberglass, foam and plywood, working in different disciplines such as furniture, jewelry, tableware, textiles and interior design.
Nanna Ditzel initially trained as a cabinetmaker at The School of Arts and Crafts and subsequently as an architect from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen. One of her contemporaries included the Danish designer Grete Jalk and their teachers were among the very best; the architects Orla Mølgaard, Peter Hvidt (Hvidt & Mølgaard) Ejnar Larsen & Aksel Bender Madsen. In 1943 Nanna met her future husband Jørgen Ditzel (1921 – 1961) at The Academy. At that time she was only 20 and he was 22, but already in the following year they exhibited together at the Cabinetmaker’s Annual Exhibition in Copenhagen. Nanna graduated in furniture design in 1946 and the same year they established a design studio together. During the 1950’s they continued to present furniture design at the annual Cabinetmaker’s Exhibitions, but they also did various textile designs and a distinctive series of jewelry pieces for Georg Jensen for which they received the Lunning Prize in 1956 and silver and gold medals at the Triennale in Milano.
Nanna Ditzel was one of the few female designers to break through in an otherwise male dominated field. Another woman who made a mark as a furniture designer was Grete Jalk who studied together with Ditzel. Both Jalk and Ditzel designed furniture which followed the strict idiom of Kaare Klint, but they also experimented with furniture design that was different from the Klint school in both materials and expression. Ditzel wanted to design furniture for the masses and early on in her career she started to cooperate with the furniture-maker Søren Willadsen in her strive to make Danish furniture design popular on an international scale. One of the finest examples of furniture design made in collaboration with Willadsen is the desk with three drawers in rosewood from c. 1958 which is now on display at our gallery in Paris. The drawers are integrated in the table top and even though the desk is industrially produced it’s exquisitely made with refined, organically shaped details.
Ditzel has been awarded numerous international prizes including the Gold Medal in the International Furniture Design Competition in Japan in 1990, elected Honourable Royal Designer at the Royal Society of Arts in London in 1996 and awarded the lifelong Artists’ Grant by the Danish Ministry of Culture in 1998. Nanna Ditzel continued to work in the design sector until shortly before her death in June 2005.