"One cannot create happiness with beautiful objects, but one can spoil quite a lot of happiness with bad ones." – Finn Juhl|
Frederiksberg, Denmark witnessed the birth of furniture designer Finn Juhl on January 20, 1912. The son of textile wholesaler, Finn Juhl enjoyed the Royal Museum of Fine Arts and could be found there quite often. He wanted to be an art historian, but his father’s practical thinking prodded him into attending the Royal Academy of Arts instead. Often looked upon as a very quiet man, Finn Juhl earned himself an architect degree which he later used to design interiors such as those found in the chambers of the UN in New York City. His furniture designs, especially his chairs, are what he is truly remembered for and secured his place in modernism design.
Finn Juhl worked in the offices of architect Vilhelm Laritzen for 11 years, learning what it was like to be an architect and giving him the experience he needed later down the road. He won an award for designing his own home in 1942 and while working for Laritzen, Finn Juhl had the opportunity to also work with Viggo Boesen on the Danish Broadcasting Corporation’s Radio Building. Finn Juhl is not credited for designing this building, but every aspect of design – especially the interior – was heightened in the building, leaving his mark on it for evermore. He left Laritzen’s firm to open his own in 1945, turning his attention on interior design and furniture. He had been exhibiting his own designs prior to leaving the architect firm, including one in conjunction with cabinetmaker Niels Vodder that was displayed at the 11th Annual Copenhagen Cabinetmaker’s Guild.
Finn Juhl liked organic looks and feels and this style was pioneering in the 1930s. His furniture was designed using various structural elements that showcased the tensions and forces that acted upon the furniture in a dramatic light. His trademark was the showcasing of the differences between the framework of the piece and the areas that supported the body. The concept of a person ‘floating’ in the seat surface was developed by Finn Juhl and considered one of his many great inventions in furniture design. He also enjoyed the way wood could be sculpted and many of his pieces – such as the ‘Pelican’ chair – were inspired by ethnographic primitive mystique, surrealism, and the passion to create products that were unique yet functional.
Finn Juhl’s designs eventually turned towards mass market appeal that was beautiful, classic, sturdy and affordable. Many of those pieces were produced by Niels Vodder who worked with Finn Juhl for 22 years after their initial collaboration. The furniture won Finn Juhl 16 different guild competitions. He became well known in the United States and he began lecturing on interior design at the Frederiksberg Technical School. He and his products were featured in ‘Interiors’ magazine and he took part in the 1951 ‘Good Design’ show in Chicago, US.
Finn Juhl passed away in 1989, but his memory is still very evident in the Danish furniture market. He has been credited for the country’s success in exports, and he had no problem pushing the limits of the Danish design community during his life’s work.
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Article Added on Friday, October 10, 2008
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