Finn Juhl Centennial at Designmuseum Danmark

written by:
November 27, 2012

This fall we had the opportunity to pay a visit to Copenhagen, Denmark, where design buffs and locals alike are honoring what would have been the 100th birthday of one of the most influential (and yet somehow, still relatively under the radar) Danish designer, Finn Juhl. Designmuseum Danmark—worth a visit for its permanent collection alone, a trip through the Danish craft tradition—is exhibiting a hit list of Juhl's best work through the end of 2012 in a show called "Furniture for the Senses." What's especially incredible about Juhl's furniture is how ahead of its time it is: expressive, playful, colorful, plush, and not what you might expect from something designed in the early 1940s.

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  The main exhibition gallery for Designmuseum Danmark's Finn Juhl centennial exhibition, "Furniture for the Senses." The museum building was first opened in 1895 in central Copenhagen.  Courtesy of: Photograhper Pernille Klemp

    The main exhibition gallery for Designmuseum Danmark's Finn Juhl centennial exhibition, "Furniture for the Senses." The museum building was first opened in 1895 in central Copenhagen.

    Courtesy of: Photograhper Pernille Klemp

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  One of our favorite Juhl collections is the sideboard and low side table (not pictured) with gradient-color sliding trays from 1955. It is said that Juhl's color selection is based on his "fascination with Goethe’s famous colour circle, which placed the colours in a harmonious cohesion." Any way you look at it, this is a piece that screams Danish modernism.

    One of our favorite Juhl collections is the sideboard and low side table (not pictured) with gradient-color sliding trays from 1955. It is said that Juhl's color selection is based on his "fascination with Goethe’s famous colour circle, which placed the colours in a harmonious cohesion." Any way you look at it, this is a piece that screams Danish modernism.

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  Two bright red Poet sofas face off in the vestibule leading into "Furniture for the Senses." Juhl designed the sofas in 1941 for use in his own home (more on that to come!).  Courtesy of: Photograhper Pernille Klemp

    Two bright red Poet sofas face off in the vestibule leading into "Furniture for the Senses." Juhl designed the sofas in 1941 for use in his own home (more on that to come!).

    Courtesy of: Photograhper Pernille Klemp

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  Left, the Pelican double chair, designed in 1940 and still rather outré in terms of its radical silhouette. (Bonus: It's also extremely comfortable, and you can buy a reproduction from OneCollection via Design Within Reach.) Sofa 4600 (right) was designed in 1946 for a small Danish upholstery company called Carl Brørup.

    Left, the Pelican double chair, designed in 1940 and still rather outré in terms of its radical silhouette. (Bonus: It's also extremely comfortable, and you can buy a reproduction from OneCollection via Design Within Reach.) Sofa 4600 (right) was designed in 1946 for a small Danish upholstery company called Carl Brørup.

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  One of the most fascinating parts of the Finn Juhl exhibition at Designmuseum Danmark is the in-depth archive section framed along the walls. You can see individual furniture elevations, plans for the UN Council Chamber he designed in 1950 (now being renovated), and detailed plans for Juhl's own office.

    One of the most fascinating parts of the Finn Juhl exhibition at Designmuseum Danmark is the in-depth archive section framed along the walls. You can see individual furniture elevations, plans for the UN Council Chamber he designed in 1950 (now being renovated), and detailed plans for Juhl's own office.

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  The detail on this chair elevation watercolor is a work of design unto itself.

    The detail on this chair elevation watercolor is a work of design unto itself.

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  Here, another sketch by Finn Juhl, this one of the quietly revolutionary 45 Chair (one of the first to free the seat and back from the frame).

    Here, another sketch by Finn Juhl, this one of the quietly revolutionary 45 Chair (one of the first to free the seat and back from the frame).

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  The same 45 Chair upholstered in a mod yellow.

    The same 45 Chair upholstered in a mod yellow.

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  The Double Chieftain Chair (right), designed in 1949 and fabricated from teak, bent plywood, and leather, is one of Juhl's most recognizable pieces. This seat, along with its single chair brother, heavily influenced the organic modernism movement seen from Denmark to Brazil. At left, a lesser-known chair design with a rattan back.

    The Double Chieftain Chair (right), designed in 1949 and fabricated from teak, bent plywood, and leather, is one of Juhl's most recognizable pieces. This seat, along with its single chair brother, heavily influenced the organic modernism movement seen from Denmark to Brazil. At left, a lesser-known chair design with a rattan back.

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  That adjusts ingeniously with small leather cords on its back. These two pieces also represent the era when teak and rattan started filtering in as indoor furniture materials.

    That adjusts ingeniously with small leather cords on its back. These two pieces also represent the era when teak and rattan started filtering in as indoor furniture materials.

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  More expressive furniture by Juhl, including the groovy Ross Coffee Table (1948).

    More expressive furniture by Juhl, including the groovy Ross Coffee Table (1948).

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