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Elegant rationalism

May 13, 2018

Danish design duo Ejner Larsen and Aksel Bender Madsen designed some of the most refined examples of 20th century Danish cabinetmakers’ furniture. Their work is characterized by a rational and functionalistic approach combined with a very elegant and visually light idiom.

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Both were trained cabinetmakers and met during their subsequent studies at the Furniture Department of the Danish School of Arts and Crafts. After graduating in 1940 they gained experience by working for some of the most influential Danish architects at the time; Bender Madsen in the offices of Kaare Klint and Arne Jacobsen while Larsen worked for Mogens Koch and Palle Suenson. In 1947 they established their own office and began a longstanding collaboration.

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Larsen and Madsen’s work is defined by high quality materials and refined craftsmanship. All of their carefully designed details are both functional and aesthetically pleasing, highlighting the character of the materials and the handicraft tradition.

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The present game table, designed in 1957, is an exquisite example of their subtle aesthetics. It is characterized by an overall clear and rational construction, yet imbued with elegantly designed details. The rosewood frame tapers evenly towards its middle; a feature that both adds visual lightness to the frame, highlights the beauty of the black leather tabletop and makes more space for the chairs and users around the table. Another delicacy includes the four pull-out drink holders, placed discretely on each side. The game table was made by cabinetmaker Willy Beck, a master of the Danish cabinetmaking tradition with whom Larsen and Madsen worked closely for nearly 25 years.