What is Danish Modern?
Danish Modern is the name given to the minimalist home furnishings and housewares that originated in Denmark in the early to mid-twentieth century. Today, these items are highly collectible and sought after for their sophisticated style, and elegant simplicity.
Danish modern home furnishings and housewares are best known for their organic form and functionality that are combined to create objects for the home that have timeless appeal. Designers of the Danish Modern aesthetic wanted to create beautifully sculpted home décor that was intended for ‘modern day needs’ and accessible to everyone, not just the elite.
This design aesthetic is synonymous with high-quality craftsmanship, durability, and elegance. The rising popularity of Danish Modern design in the mid-twentieth century was in part a response to the notion of ‘form follows function,’ a sentiment synonymous with the Bauhaus movement, which rejects ornamentation and instead focuses on creating everyday objects that are attainable to the masses.
Danish Modern design is an art form in and of itself. Aside from its visual appeal, Danish Modern items serve a higher purpose than being simply an object of beauty. Danish designers and architects believed that ‘design could be used to improve people’s lives’ (Wikipedia). They give the utmost consideration to form, and place a strong emphasis on how a piece of furniture can be designed for comfort, and to suit the human body.
The Origins of Danish Modern
A combination of Danish cabinet makers and architects, under the guidance of Kaare Klint created home furnishings with ‘clean, pure lines that were based on an understanding of classical furniture craftsmanship coupled with careful research into materials, proportions and the requirements of the human body. (Wikipedia)’ These pioneers are responsible for cultivating the danish modern style that originated in the early part of the twentieth century, in part thanks to the Bauhaus movement that was indoctrinating an entire generation of designers in the modernist aesthetic across Europe. Like the Bauhaus movement itself, Danish Modern design would soon make its way across the Atlantic to America where aided by the rise of mass production techniques, and a high demand for home furnishings to accommodate the postwar housing boom of the 1950s, it gained quite a bit of popularity.
The handcrafted, organic shapes, and clean lines that define this European design movement helped influence a generation of designers in the mid-century era and continues to serve as design inspiration for a whole new era of designers today.
Notable Danish Modern Designers
Graduating from the Royal Academy in 1924, Jacobsen quickly demonstrated his mastery of both architecture and furniture design. With the completion of his Royal Hotel in Copenhagen and all its internal fittings and furniture in 1960, his talents became widely recognized, especially as a result of the chairs called the Egg and the Swan, now international icons. His stackable, three-legged Ant Chair (1952) with a one-piece plywood seat and back and its four-legged counterpart, the 7 Chair (1955), were particularly popular with worldwide sales in the millions. (Wikipedia)
Though he studied architecture at the Royal Academy, Juhl was a self-taught designer as far as furniture was concerned. In the late 1930s, he created furniture for himself but from 1945 he became recognized for his expressively sculptural designs, placing emphasis on form rather than function, so breaking tradition with the Klint school. His successful interior design work at the UN Headquarters in New York spread the notion of Danish Modern far and wide, paving the way for the international participation of his Danish colleagues. Two key pieces of furniture, in which the seat and backrest are separated from the wooden frame, are his 45-Chair, with its elegant armrests, and his Chieftain Chair (1949). (Wikipedia)
After graduating in architecture in 1938, he worked in Arne Jacobsen and Eric Møller’s office before establishing his own office in 1943. Striving for functionality as well as beauty, he became the most prolific Danish designer, producing over 500 different chairs. His Round Chair (technically Model 500) in 1949 was called “the world’s most beautiful chair” before being labelled simply “The Chair” after Nixon and Kennedy used it in a 1960 televised debate. His Wishbone Chair, also 1949, with a Y-shaped back split and a curved back, was inspired by a Chinese child’s chair he had seen. A work of simplicity and comfort, it is still made today by the Danish firm Carl Hansen & Son. Wegner’s designs can now be found in several of the world’s top design museums including New York’s Museum of Modern Art. (Wikipedia)
So what is it that makes Danish Modern design so desirable? Its continued popularity is a testament to the extraordinary care and attention to detail that went into the creation of these furnishings and accessories. The use of high-quality materials, paired with exceptional craftsmanship is evident in how these pieces have stood up to the test of time.
Danish Modern style is always in vogue. Whether you chose to select a carefully considered signature piece to accentuate your living space, or you want to enhance your Danish modern interior by adding a new piece to an already existing collection, going with Danish modern furniture is an excellent choice.
You will be investing in home furnishings and décor that not only create a timeless aesthetic, but also add value to your home. Unfortunately, finding Danish Modern furniture in great vintage condition at a reasonable price is increasingly rare, and demand for these items contines to grow. The good news is that Mid Century Modern collectibles are always rising in value. This is a trend that shows no sign of slowing down. The object you find for your home today may be worth quite a bit more a few years down the road, so once you find that essential piece, hang on to it!
Examples of Timeless Danish Modern Home Furnishings
Classic Danish Modern Credenza/Sideboard, Figured Walnut, Arne Vodder
Photo Source: 1st dibs
Vintage Drexel Dining Set by Kipp Stewart
Photo Source: Danish Modern LA
Mid-Century Modern Trioh Teak and Cane Coffee Table
Photo Source: 1stdibs
Danish Modern Rosewood Lounge Chair by Ole Wanscher
Photo Source: Danish Teak Classics
Danish Modern design is the perfect choice to create an authentic retro look for your home. Its simplistic form and naturalistic beauty is complimentary to a variety of design styles that will help enhance the overall appeal of your interior environment. The right piece can create just the right touch of sophistication and elegance while at the same time making a statement about your refined modern tastes.
Mid Century Møbler sells vintage mid century furniture & Danish modern design from the 1950’s and 1960’s online and from our warehouse in Berkeley, California. We are the largest Mid Century furniture dealer in Northern California and continually add new pieces to our inventory every week.