Selected Nordic Design II

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Selected Nordic Design II


With the opening of a new gallery space located in Bredgade, the historic street in the heart of Copenhagen, Dansk Møbelkunst has returned to the epicenter of 20th century Nordic furniture design. In a Danish context, this is where it all began. This is the place from where the golden age of Danish furniture art unfolded during the years 1920-1970, when the workshops of Copenhagen’s most prominent cabinetmakers were located in this area. Bredgade was also the street where the Danish Museum of Decorative Art for decades housed the annual Copenhagen Cabinetmakers’ Guild Exhibitions that fuelled the transition from a Victorian-like style to Functionalism and facilitated the unique Danish collaboration between young, upcoming designers and master craftsmen. Dansk Møbelkunst takes its name from the Danish word for furniture art, a term that refers to the Danish tradition of furniture based on artistic handicraft, which was reinvigorated during the 1920s. In Danish furniture art Modernism did not mark a break with the past but evolved out of the handicraft tradition. The seminal figures of the early, modern movement adapted the rational principles of Functionalism to the values of the workshop, causing a renewal and extension of the cabinetmaking tradition, rather than an industrial turn. One of the founders of the modern Danish movement was architect Kaare Klint who combined clean lines and functional requirements with traditional construction methods and a refined sense of natural materials. Klint favored Cuban mahogany for its rich reddish-brown colour and Niger leather for its ability to age beautifully. As Professor in Furniture Design at The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, he educated some of the most prominent Danish furniture architects, including Ole Wanscher, Børge Mogensen, Ejner Larsen and Aksel Bender Madsen, who all represent the devotion to simple structures, high-quality materials and comfort that characterizes the Klint School. Architect and cultural critic, Poul Henningsen, was another pioneer, whose lamps represent an ideal intersection of design, craft and technology. Henningsen was obsessed with creating even glare-free lighting and by 1927, he had designed a system of shades that provide an optimum distribution of light whilst concealing the light source. The early pioneers paved the way for the international breakthrough of Danish designers such as Finn Juhl, Hans J. Wegner and Poul Kjærholm in the mid-20th century. Finn Juhl was one of the seminal figures of the more organic variant of Modernism, and his close partnership with master cabinetmaker Niels Vodder resulted in superb execution of his daring sculptural constructions and carefully designed details. The NV-45 chair, designed in 1945, and the Chieftain chair from 1949 are renowned examples of their groundbreaking collaboration. This distinctive combination of modern aesthetics and excellent craftsmanship made Copenhagen the capital of 20th century Nordic furniture making. In Sweden, crafts traditions were cultivated in Märta Måås-Fjetterström’s textile workshop, which has become synonymous with some of the most pioneering textile art of the 20th century. Likewise, the present works of Swedish and Finnish ceramics testify to a golden age of Nordic design that includes a wide spectrum of applied art beyond Danish Modern. The guiding principle of this selection of Nordic design is the devotion to quality. The present works all came out of a time-specific cultural movement - an era when the workshops were still active and Nordic design reached its peak of refinement in a synthesis of aesthetics, craftsmanship and utility that remains unequalled today. Opposing overconsumption and the excessive production of disposable items, the enduring examples of Nordic design possess a timeless beauty and material quality that have proved sustainable. As traditional standards of quality and craft become increasingly rare, we invite you to examine these historic pieces, just as we invite you to visit our new gallery in Bredgade and experience the design district of Copenhagen where it all began.


TOVE KINDT-LARSEN, 1906-1994 Lady’s desk, 1936 Elm and brass Made by cabinetmaker H.M. Birkedal Hansen



KAARE KLINT, 1888-1954 A pair of easy chairs, 1937 Cuban mahogany, Niger leather and brass Made by cabinetmaker Rud. Rasmussen

POUL HENNINGSEN, 1894-1967 Piano lamp, 1931 Browned brass and opaline glass Made by Louis Poulsen


BRUNO MATHSSON, 1907-1988 Paris daybed, 1936 Laminated birch, canvas and sheepskin Made by cabinetmaker Karl Mathsson



PALLE SUENSON, 1904-1987 Height adjustable pendant, 1940 Painted metal and brass Provenance: The family of Palle Suenson

KAARE KLINT, 1888-1954 Sofa, 1935 Cuban mahogany, Niger leather and brass Made by cabinetmaker Rud. Rasmussen



Ceramic poetry

Birger Kaipiainen was a leading figure in the field of 20th century Nordic ceramics. His work is characterized by a unique, creative idiom that gave him the nickname “king of decorators”. Born in Finland, Kaipiainen studied at the Central School of Applied Arts in Helsinki. In 1937, he was offered a position in the art department at Arabia, Finland’s leading ceramic company, which at that time was positioning itself as a frontrunner in the realm of free applied art. Kaipiainen’s early career coincided with the ideas of Functionalism and the endeavours to strip applied art of all ornamentation, decorativeness and sentimentality. But Kaipiainen forged his own path. With a unique artistic sense of colour, he created a variety of poetic and pictorial ceramic objects. At Arabia, he enjoyed an artistic freedom to fulfil his dreamy visions – free from the constraints of industrial production. The large dishes he created for Arabia are refined examples of his extraordinary creativity. Densely decorated with colourful berries, fruits and flowers, they are influenced by the art of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, as well as by his own childhood memories of the Finnish countryside. As the Finnish art historian and author, Harri Kalha, has pointed out, the basic tone of Kaipiainen’s work is nostalgia; an escape from the present Everyday and a melancholic yearning for the Elsewhere, a more beautiful world infused with memories gilded by time. Another remarkable feature of Kaipiainen’s work is his use of applied three-dimensional elements, made of ceramic fragments or beads, which add an enthralling sensuous and tactile dimension to his aesthetics. In 1954, Kaipiainen moved to Sweden where he spent four years working for Rörstrand – a period in which his ceramic art entered the realm of sculpture and his themes became more infused with Surrealism. His series of Horse riders, sculptures in glazed stoneware and richly decorated with painted motifs of faces, clocks and swans, belongs to this period. Kaipiainen was a bold and visionary storyteller. His wondrous designs and iridescent glazes testify to an unusual virtuosity, not only artistically, but also regarding ceramic techniques. After returning to Finland in 1958, he continued his work at Arabia until his death in 1988.

BIRGER KAIPIAINEN, 1915-1988 Dish, 1960’s Glazed stoneware Made by Arabia 47 x 43 x 6,5 cm



BIRGER KAIPIAINEN, 1915-1988 Dish, 1960’s Glazed stoneware Made by Arabia 45 x 39,5 x 7 cm


BIRGER KAIPIAINEN, 1915-1988 Sculpture, Horserider, 1950’s Glazed stoneware Made by Rörstrand 40 x 60 x 16 cm

NIELS VODDER, 1892-1982 Sideboard, 1954 Brazilian rosewood Made by cabinetmaker Niels Vodder



FINN JUHL, 1912-1989 A pair of armchairs, 1946 Brazilian rosewood and Niger leather Made by cabinetmaker Niels Vodder

FINN JUHL, 1912-1989 Easy chair, 1950 Teak and textile Made by cabinetmaker Søren Willadsen



POUL HENNINGSEN, 1894-1967 Floor lamp 5/3, 1927 Brass and opaline glass Made by Louis Poulsen


EJNER LARSEN, 1917-1987 AKSEL BENDER MADSEN, 1916-2000 Table, 1956 Teak Made by cabinetmaker Willy Beck


BARBRO NILSSON, 1899-1983 Bankrabatten, 1966 Wool, knotted pile Made by Märta Måås-Fjetterström AB 504 x 207 cm

Decorative details

Olaf Stæhr-Nielsen was a trained ciseleur and sculptor renowned for his visionary decorative works, facades and reliefs designed for a variety of public buildings, movie theaters, restaurants and international exhibitions. After graduating as a ciseleur in 1917, he worked for prominent Copenhagen craftsmen, such as silversmith Kay Bojesen and jeweller and Court goldsmith Alfred Dragsted. The following year, he enrolled at the School of Sculpture at The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts where he studied under Professor and sculptor Einar Utzon-Frank. Following his graduation from the Academy, Stæhr-Nielsen realized a number of freestanding, naturalistic sculptures, but it was his vivid and creative approach as a decorative artist that determined his breakthrough. In collaboration with renowned Danish architects such as Kaj Gottlob, Tyge Hvass, Frits Schlegel and Aage Rafn, he carried out numerous decorative tasks in Copenhagen, Paris, Geneva, Brussels and New York. In 1946, Stæhr-Nielsen was commissioned to design the lighting for Restaurant Wivex in Copenhagen’s Tivoli Gardens. The restaurant was being rebuilt and refurbished due to extensive destruction during the Second World War where large parts of Tivoli Gardens burned down. Architect Ernst Kühn was in charge of the rebuild, and he hired the experienced Stæhr-Nielsen to create the lighting for the dining hall. Kühn’s interior design was elegant and luxurious, and Stæhr-Nielsen contributed to this atmosphere with an impressive chandelier that proved his status as one of Denmark’s finest decorative artists. The chandelier is characterized by an extraordinary sculptural elegance and carefully designed details. The browned brass frame with delicately shaped branches and stalks is decorated with porcelain flowers and two centered porcelain bowls that conceal the light source. Stæhr-Nielsen’s mother, Augusta Olsen, was a porcelain painter, and this was undoubtedly a source of inspiration. The porcelain flowers are beautifully decorated in yellow, purple, blue, green and pink hues. They all carry the three blue signature waves of Royal Copenhagen, just as the two large porcelain bowls display the manufacturer’s iconic fluted lines. Stæhr-Nielsen had an unfailing sense of materials and details. He also had a unique ability to create works that reflected the environment for which they were commissioned - in this case a chandelier that echoes the atmosphere of elegance, merriment and good times.



OLAF STÆHR-NIELSEN, 1896-1969 Chandelier, 1946 Browned brass and porcelain Made by Royal Copenhagen Provenance: Restaurant Wivex, Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen


ARNE VODDER, 1926-2009 Cabinet with bookshelves, 1950’s Teak, beech, maple and brass Made by Bovirke


BERNDT FRIBERG, 1899-1981 A pair of vases Stoneware with Hare’s fur glaze Made by Gustavsberg Studio Height: 52,5 cm. 1958 Height: 37 cm. 1961


FINN JUHL, 1912-1989 Chieftain chair, 1949 Teak and leather Made by cabinetmaker Niels Vodder

FINN JUHL, 1912-1989 Work table, 1945 Maple, teak and brass Made by cabinetmaker Niels Vodder



FINN JUHL, 1912-1989 Wall-mounted cabinet, 1950’s Teak and maple Made by cabinetmaker Niels Vodder

FINN JUHL, 1912-1989 Sofa, 1947 Teak, brass and textile Made by cabinetmaker Niels Vodder



PALLE SUENSON, 1904-1987 A pair of table lamps, 1937 Nickel-plated brass, partly painted

BARBRO NILSSON, 1899-1983 Falurutan, Grön Fabiola, 1952 Wool, flat-weave Made by Märta Måås-Fjetterström AB 326 x 468 cm



Academy cabinet

In 1955, Poul Kjærholm began teaching at the Department of Furniture Design at The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen. The department was founded by Kaare Klint in 1924 and became one of the most significant institutions in 20th century Danish design. By combining rational analyses and functional forms with high-quality craftsmanship and a refined sense of materials, Klint introduced the principles of modern Danish design and influenced generations of renowned furniture architects. After Klint’s death in 1954, one of his former students, Ole Wanscher, took over the prominent position as Professor of Furniture Design. The following year, Wanscher not only hired Kjærholm as a teaching assistant but also commissioned him to design desks and drawing cabinets for the students and instructors at the Academy’s School of Architecture. Though Kjærholm never studied directly under Klint, his Academy furniture stands out as a clear testament to the hallmarks of the Klint School. Like Klint, Kjærholm pursued the essence and universal nature of each furniture type. He wanted to create furniture that was devoid of style - defined solely by function and the texture and honesty of the materials. The desks and drawing cabinets were designed with a clear focus on functional requirements and display a stringent, geometric simplicity that emphasizes the character of the materials and the skills of the cabinetmaker. The drawing cabinet consists of a simple wood box with ten shallow drawers in solid Oregon pine that is supported on a welded steel frame. The only decorative details are the hand-cut dovetailed joints and the advanced integral drawer pulls, masterly executed by the cabinetmakers at Rud. Rasmussen. The present example belongs to the first limited production of drawing cabinets made for the Academy in 1955. In total 31 ten-drawer cabinets were produced between 1955 and 1957. In the following years, the ten-drawer model was replaced by a version with nine drawers. The Academy cabinet is yet another refined example of Kjærholm’s ability to mix natural and industrial materials and create a transparent structure that makes the role of each material absolutely clear. His constructional experiments and innovative approach to materials were always combined with the warm finishes and quality of the handicraft tradition. Kjærholm’s academic career and relation to the Academy was further consolidated when he – following Wanscher’s retirement – was appointed Head of the Department of Furniture Design in 1973 and assumed the Professorship in 1976.

POUL KJÆRHOLM, 1929-1980 Academy Cabinet, 1955 Oregon pine and steel Made by Rud. Rasmussen Provenance: The School of Architecture at the Royal Academy


EJNER LARSEN, 1917-1987 AKSEL BENDER MADSEN, 1916-2000 A pair of Metropolitan chairs, 1959 Painted wood and cane Made by cabinetmaker Willy Beck



PETER HVIDT, 1916-1986 ORLA MØLGAARD-NIELSEN, 1907-1993 Wall-mounted shelf, c. 1951 Teak and brass Made by Axel Albeck 33 x 200 cm

IB KOFOD LARSEN, 1921-2003 Elizabeth Chair, 1956 Brazilian rosewood and leather Made by cabinetmakers Christensen & Larsen



EJNER LARSEN, 1917-1987 AKSEL BENDER MADSEN, 1916-2000 Desk, 1966 Brazilian rosewood and leather Made by cabinetmaker Willy Beck


JEANNE GRUT, 1927-2009 Wall relief, Blue Fish ”Coelacanth”, 1971 Glazed faience Made by Aluminia 107 x 50 x 19 cm

FINN JUHL, 1912-1989 A pair of easy chairs, 1945 Teak and textile Made by cabinetmaker Niels Vodder



FINN JUHL, 1912-1989 Bowl, 1951 Teak Made by Kay Bojesen

BARBRO NILSSON, 1899-1983 Krabban, grey, 1947 Wool, knotted pile Made by Märta Måås-Fjetterström AB 277 x 183 cm



FINN JUHL, 1912-1989 Bench and armchair, 1948 Teak and leather Made by cabinetmaker Niels Vodder

A minimalist manifesto

Poul Kjærholm’s first piece of furniture design, the PK 25 chair, displays all the features that characterize Kjærholm’s work throughout his career – the clarity of structure, the simplicity of form and an innovative approach to materials. The chair was designed as his graduation project in 1951. At the School of Arts and Crafts in Copenhagen, Kjærholm’s principal teacher, Hans J. Wegner, assigned his students the project of furnishing the living room of a well-known Danish architect. Kjærholm chose Halldor Gunnløgsson renowned for his uncompromising aesthetics. Gunnløgsson had recently completed his own house in Vedbæk and for this hypothetical client Kjærholm designed a lounge chair based on a simple yet very complex idea: a chair with a structure that was formed from a single piece of steel and with a seat and back created by wrapping a piece of natural halyard around the bent frame. The use of steel and halyard was inspired by Wegner’s Halyard chair, designed in 1950, but Kjærholm took it a step further by reducing his chair to a single piece of each material. By using solid steel that could be bent into a continuous frame and a single piece of halyard for the seat and back he eliminated any joints or seams. He named it the “Element” chair. In retrospect the chair seems to serve as a minimalist manifesto for Kjærholm’s future production. Beyond the stringent aesthetics, it introduced many of the qualities that would become central themes of his mature work: the use of steel with a matt chrome-plated finish, the principle of separating the seat and back from the bearing frame and the open structure that allows space to flow through and below the piece. Kjærholm graduated in 1952 and his graduation project brought him instant recognition. On the advice of Hans J. Wegner, Fritz Hansen hired Kjærholm to work at the company conducting design and material research and a small number of Element chairs were produced. Halldor Gunnløgsson immediately purchased the first three examples from this limited production and installed them in his living room in Vedbæk – the room for which they were originally designed. The present chairs are two of these three early examples. In 1956 Kjærholm began his collaboration with E. Kold Christensen and in 1960 the chair was put into regular production. It was then renamed from Element chair to PK 25.



POUL KJÆRHOLM, 1929-1980 A pair of PK25 chairs, 1951 Matt, chrome-plated spring steel and halyard Made by Fritz Hansen Provenance: Halldor Gunnløgsson

POUL KJÆRHOLM, 1929-1980 PK61 coffee table, 1956 Matt, chrome-plated steel, Porsgrunn marble Made by E. Kold Christensen



POUL HENNINGSEN, 1894-1967 PH-5 pendant, 1958 Copper Made by Louis Poulsen


BØRGE MOGENSEN, 1914-1972 Set of four chairs, 1950 Cherry, vavona and textile Made by cabinetmaker L. Pontoppidan Table, 1949 Cherry and vavona Made by cabinetmaker Erhard Rasmussen

Natural simplicity

Tove and Edvard Kindt-Larsen were partners in both their personal and professional life. They married in 1937 and established a studio together in 1945. They were both trained architects and met while studying under Kaare Klint at the Department of Furniture Design at The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen. As students of the Klint School they emphasized simple structures, the use of natural materials and a close collaboration with the cabinetmaker, but they replaced Klint’s voluminous, geometric frames with a softer and more delicate expression. Edvard Kindt-Larsen began his career collaborating with Klint on the celebrated Mix chair from 1930. Tove Kindt-Larsen started out working in the office of architect Tyge Hvass. In the 1930s she participated in the Copenhagen Cabinetmakers’ Guild Exhibitions with a small production of furniture that cemented her status as one of the most promising designers of her generation. The lady’s desk in elm (p. 5), presented at the exhibition in 1936 when she still carried her maiden name, Tove Reddersen, is an example from this early period. It is harmoniously composed and has an extraordinary modern, yet very time-specific 1930s aesthetics with a soft, rounded outline. It was exhibited as part of the concept “Young people, a room with furniture in elm” and made in collaboration with cabinetmaker H.M. Birkedal Hansen. The Kindt-Larsen couple began their professional partnership in the late 1930s and the present desk in Cuban mahogany, designed in 1939, is among the first pieces they designed together. It is characterized by elegant simplicity, delicately designed details with soft finishes, and excellent craftsmanship by cabinetmaker Gustav Bertelsen that enhances the tactile experience of the material. The small, well-proportioned desk testifies to their modern approach and the devotion to high-quality, natural materials, which they inherited from Klint. The Swivel stool, designed in 1957, is another example of their continuous creative output. The slender design with its conical, four-legged construction is original in its natural simplicity. The stool is small in size and visually light, yet extremely solid and versatile. It received great attention when it was presented at the Copenhagen Cabinetmakers’ Guild Exhibition where Queen Ingrid of Denmark, who visited the exhibition, fell in love with it and immediately acquired one for the royal residence. The present example is made in teak and leather, executed by cabinetmaker Thorald Madsen. In addition to trailblazing furniture design, the couple’s output included silverware, jewellery and textiles. From 1943 to 1966 Edvard Kindt-Larsen was in charge of designing and curating the Copenhagen Cabinetmakers’ Guild Exhibition - an assignment in which they were both deeply involved - and the couple had a tremendous impact on the successful Danish transformation from a Victorian-like style to Modernism.



TOVE KINDT-LARSEN, 1906-1994 EDVARD KINDT-LARSEN, 1901-1982 Lady’s desk, 1939 Cuban mahogany Made by cabinetmaker Gustav Bertelsen


TOVE KINDT-LARSEN, 1906-1994 EDVARD KINDT-LARSEN, 1901-1982 Swivel stool, 1957 Teak, Niger leather and brass Made by Thorald Madsen

OLE WANSCHER, 1903-1985 Chest of drawers, 1953 Brazilian rosewood and brass Made by cabinetmaker A.J. Iversen



HANS J. WEGNER, 1914-2007 A pair of Chinese chairs, 1944 Brazilian rosewood and leather Made by Fritz Hansen


HANS J. WEGNER, 1914-2007 Table bench, 1954 Teak and ash Made by cabinetmaker Johannes Hansen


HANS J. WEGNER, 1914-2007 Armchair, c. 1947 Oak and cane Made by cabinetmaker Johannes Hansen Set of 10

PREBEN FABRICIUS, 1931-1994 JØRGEN KASTHOLM, 1931-2007 Wall-mounted library, 1960’s Steel, aluminium, wengé and painted wood Made by Bo-Ex



MATS THESELIUS, 1956A pair of “Aluminium chairs”, 1990 Aluminium, ash and birch bark Made by Källemo AB Edition of 50


Dansk Møbelkunst Gallery Bredgade 5 DK - 1260 Copenhagen Denmark Aldersrogade 6C DK - 2100 Copenhagen Denmark +45 3332 3837

text: Anne Krysiza Sørensen photography: Brahl Fotografi interior photography: Nathalie Krag interior stylist: Helle Walsted graphic design: mauryDESIGN print: Narayana Press

copyright: Dansk Møbelkunst 2021