Danish modern is a style of minimalist housewares and furniture that’s associated with the Danish design movement. It’s notoriously clean and streamlined, and it’s still coveted today, more than half a century after its heyday.
Originally, this furniture style gained popularity after World War II because of its unornamented curvilinear shapes and moderate scale. It also emphasized utility and function.
Famous Danish architect and designer Arne Jacobsen created a number of memorable pieces of furniture. Often, his designs combined elements of functionalism and traditional aesthetics with organic forms.
As an architect, he had extensive experience in building residential, commercial and public buildings, including the Bellevue Theater in Copenhagen and a seaside resort complex in Klampenborg. He also won several competitions and awards, including the first prize for a modern house design at the Housing and Building Exhibition of the Academic Architects’ Association in 1929.
In addition to his architectural projects, Jacobsen designed many popular chairs and sofas that are still available today. His designs have become known for their fluid lines and expressive shapes that convey a sense of movement without sacrifice to comfort.
The Egg Chair is one of the most iconic designs from this time period. Originally designed in 1958 for the SAS Royal Hotel, this curvy chair has since become synonymous with the style of Danish furniture design.
This chair features a synthetic shell that’s padded with cold foam and upholstered in fabric or leather resting on a star-shaped aluminum base. It’s a classic choice for lounge and waiting areas, and it also works well in the home thanks to its organic shape.
Among the most influential and celebrated designers of Denmark, Jacobsen was one of the early pioneers of Mid-Century Modern design. Unlike other designers who worked in the same period, he had a deep understanding of how furniture should fit into an interior space and was able to create a balance between modern and traditional styles.
Arne Jacobsen is known for his precise yet expressive aesthetic that continues to inspire generations of designers around the world. In his later years, he developed an affinity for industrial materials and production methods that helped shape the evolution of contemporary furniture design. For example, his Society table from 1952 marks a significant transition between exclusive cabinetmaking and a minimalist, production-oriented aesthetic that was common in the 1950s.
Hans Wegner was a cabinet maker who was born in Tonder, southern Denmark, in 1914. apprentice and grew to be one of the most prolific furniture designers of his generation. He was known for a style of furniture called Organic Functionalism.
Often drawing inspiration from historical furniture or foreign cultures, the designer’s designs are highly evocative and aesthetically pleasing. He is credited with contributing to the international recognition of Danish Modernism in the postwar era by combining elements of Functionalist design (such as a focus on function) with an aesthetic sense of form and a commitment to the highest-quality craftsmanship.
Wood was a key material in many of his designs and he frequently used it to enhance the overall quality of his pieces. He was especially fond of working with oak and other types of wood as it allowed him to sculpt his designs into unique shapes while remaining true to the natural grain.
He was also particularly proud of his attention to detail and the quality of his work. As a result, he was able to create elegant and timeless designs that have stood the test of time and are considered classics of Danish modern furniture.
His work is exhibited worldwide and is featured in the permanent collections of significant galleries all through the world, such the Gallery of Located In new York City, Die Neue Sammlung in Munich, and the Designmuseum Danmark in Copenhagen. The museum is currently hosting a large exhibition entitled “Just One Good Chair” which features dozens of newly commissioned chairs by the designer and is in conjunction with an exhibition of Wegner’s chairs at the Kunstmuseet i Tonder near his hometown.
Kaare Klint is considered to be the father of Danish modern furniture, and was a highly influential designer. His work influenced the careers of many renowned designers, including Borge Mogensen and Finn Juhl.
Klint was born in Frederiksberg in Denmark, and was immersed in architecture from a young age. He studied under his father, Peder Vilhelm Jensen-Klint, and also worked for distinguished architect Carl Petersen.
As a designer, Klint’s style was rooted in a variety of historical influences. He studied the Shaker Movement and Thomas Chippendale and Biedermeier furniture, as well as Greek and Roman forms. He also prioritized functionalism and emphasized the importance of good craftsmanship.
He is regarded as one of the most important and influential designers in the history of modern Danish design, and his furniture is still widely sought after. Some of his most famous works include the Faaborg Chair, Safari Chair and Ravenna Armchair.
The Faaborg Chair was designed when he was only 26 years old, and was a transformative work for Klint as well as for modernist furniture design as a whole. It was the start of his signature approach, which he called “human furniture” and which focused on proportions adapted to the human body.
Later in his career, he helped establish the Furniture and Spatial Design departments at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Denmark, which is a testament to his influence on future generations of furniture designers. He founded the school in 1924 and was instrumental in shaping the careers of designers such as Poul Kjaerholm, Kai Kristiansen and Borge Mogensen.
His designs are characterized by a sense of proportion, a clear form language and a refined craftsmanship. His iconic pieces, such as the Faaborg Chair and the Red Chair Series, are considered to be some of the most beautiful and enduring examples of Danish modern furniture.
Poul Henningsen designed a wide range of furniture, including a variety of different types of chairs. His designs were primarily intended to provide comfort and beauty in the present and be durable enough to last for many years to come.
Henningsen is often credited with being the first lighting architect, and he was responsible for introducing the concept of glare-free lamps. He believed that direct light from an electrical bulb was harmful to well-being, and so he developed a series of designs that used a multi-shade system to ensure comfortable and soft light without glare.
For example, his PH 5 pendant lamp is one of the most iconic Danish designs. It has been replicated in homes all over the world and is still popular to this day, demonstrating that exceptional design can remain timeless.
Another of Henningsen’s designs is the PH Snake Stool, which is made up of one single steel tube that shapes both the base and the seat. It was not possible to do a serial production of this piece during Henningsen’s lifetime, so it remains an incredibly unique and innovative item of furniture today.
Finally, Henningsen is also famous for his PH Mirror, which combines the functionality of a mirror with a design that appears to float in space. He also designed the PH Chair and a series of other chairs, tables, and other furniture pieces that are both functional and aesthetically pleasing.
While Henningsen is not as well-known for his furniture as some of the other designers in this section, his designs are equally impressive and timeless. He is credited with originating the concept of a multi-shade lamp, and his PH series is arguably his most influential design.
Nanna Ditzel is one of the most versatile and enduring furniture designers of the 20th century. Her works – from her well-known rattan chair ‘Hanging Egg’ to her innovative jewellery designs and tablewares – are instantly recognisable by their organic shapes, bold colour and the ability to incorporate an element of surprise into their design.
During her collaboration with her husband, Jorgen, she created a range of livable furniture and comfortable interior environments that were at once functional and stylish. The result was a fusion of Danish modernism with a sophisticated touch.
Her work has won her a number of prizes, including the Lunning Prize in 1956 and a silver medal at the Milan Triennial exhibition. Throughout her career, she remained committed to rethinking the functionalist design heritage with an aesthetic interpretation.
Many of her designs are based around the body, as a representation of free play. She also experimented with a wide range of materials, from foam to wicker and wood.
With her renowned Hanging Egg Chair she pushed the boundaries of wicker design, creating an iconic image that has long been associated with Danish modernist furniture. But her work went much further than this, and she was one of the first designers to combine wicker with other materials like metal and fiberglass.
She also developed a series of fabrics for Kvadrat, introducing bold colours and texture into her designs. And she was also known for her use of natural rattan, which she used for a range of chairs and tables.
In the years that followed her husband’s death in 1961, Nanna continued her design career solo, rethinking the functionalist furniture traditions with her own aesthetic interpretation. She also established the international Interspace furniture store in Hampstead, London. She remained active until her death in 2005.