Artists, Artisans & Entrepreneurs, Creative Crafts, Creative Geneva Living, Shopping
Comments 5

Danish design deciphered by Boris Liger of Geneva’s La Boutique Danoise

The six “Songbirds” created by Danish designer Kay Bojesen in the 1950s each has a name. Above, from left to right: Pop (after soda pop), Kay (after the designer himself), and Peter (after Bojesen’s eldest grandchild).

Once you scratch the surface (figuratively, of course) of Danish furniture design there’s just no turning back. Boris Liger, Manager of Geneva’s La Boutique Danoise — for whom Danish design is not just a job, but a passion — explains why it elicits such enthusiasm and the reasons for its enduring appeal.

 

Boris, when did Danish design win acceptance with a worldwide audience and why has it remained so enduringly popular?

Danish design as we know it today comes from the will of the designers of the 1920s and 1930s like Kaare Klint, Mogens Koch and Alvar Aalto [Finnish] to create aesthetic furniture — functional and accessible to all — that is essentially based on the specific needs of the human body. Its founding fathers are Hans J. Wegner, Finn Juhl, Arne Jacobsen, Borge Mogensen, Verner Panton, Poul Henningsen. While this furniture and objects were immediately a great success at home it was only after the second world war that the phenomenon of Danish design really took off internationally. The golden age of Nordic design was uncontestedly in the 50s and 60s.

 

danish design geneva

“GJ Nesting Tables” (1963) by Grete Jalk, who created boldly curved furniture. The LED Carrie lamp is by Norm Architects.

What are the underlying aesthetics, values, influences and ideas behind the success of Danish design?

The spirit of Danish design is defined by the creation of beautiful objects whose purpose is to simplify and improve daily life in the home. The environment is in fact the main source of inspiration for Danish artists and designers and results in an ubiquity of furniture and objects in wood, with clean lines.

 

danish furniture

 

Your shop window bears the insignia “House of Finn Juhl“. Who was Finn Juhl and what is his significance to Danish design? Which classic designs is he best known for?

The designer Finn Juhl is less known than some of his peers outside Scandinavian borders. Despite this he is an important designer of the Scandinavian design era. Finn Juhl first wanted to study fine arts before falling back, under pressure from his father, to architecture. An apprentice of talent under Wilhem Lauritzen he left his studies without having finished in order to try to keep pace with his master. He defined himself as a self-taught furniture designer. His love of art pushed him to comprehend design with a different eye, one influenced by contemporary movements. We can liken it to a modernist working as a sculptor who achieves forms that are largely organic.

 

danish furniture design

In the Boutique Danoise showroom, a drawing by Finn Juhl of his “FJ45” armchair hangs above “Sideboard 142”, designed in 1964 by Johannes Andersen and relaunched by Bernhard Pdersen & Son. Atop the sideboard are candle holders and “Ikebana” flower vases in glass and brass by Jaime Hayon for Fritz Hansen.

 

Notably, Finn Juhl encouraged recognition of the work of woodworkers thanks to his designs for armchairs of the time. With his armchair model FJ45, the structure of highly worked wood is no longer hidden by a covering of foam and fabric, it is an integral part of the design, unlike his poet sofa or pelican chair for example. Many of his later designs used this new idea. Another highlight of Finn Juhl’s career: he had great success in the USA thanks to his partnership with the businessman C.W.F. France for whom he created a chair (France chair) to be exported as a kit. During his American experience he organized a traveling exhibition that was a great success. From this trip he learned to use metal in his compositions (nyvahn desk, table-bench, etc.).

 

At Boutique Danoise , a “CH07” chair by Hans J. Wegner (1954) (left) sits opposite a red Finn Juhl-designed armchair. The “table-bench” (1951) (foreground), also by Finn Juhl, converts from a coffee table into a bench and comes with a cushion that can be unfolded to cover the surface.

One cannot create happiness with beautiful objects, but can spoil a lot of happiness with bad ones. Finn Juhl.

 

The Poet Sofa (1941 ), one of Finn Juhl’s most iconic pieces, resulted from his ambition to create functional furniture for smaller apartments. The Ovalette Table by Ilmari Tapiovaara (1954) sits atop Finn Juhl’s Circle Rug (1963).

Are there other Danish designers with a similar enduring appeal; do you feature their work in your boutique?

Yes of course, as I said before, other designers like Hans J. Wegner, Mogens Koch, Kaare Klint, Arne Jacobsen, Borge Mogensen, Verner Panton and Poul Henningsen were propelled together onto the international stage with the same desire to conceive an avant-garde design from natural materials with clean lines. We’re very attached to the forerunners of this movement, which is why we’re eager to present examples of their work.

 

boutique danoise geneva

The “CH25” chair (foreground) designed by Hans J. Wegner (1950); reversible lambswool blankets featuring designs by Kay Bojesen hang on the “Nomad” wall rack. One of Bojessen’s playful wood toy monkeys sits on the window ledge.

We’re well into 2018, but what are the top Danish interior design trends for 2018?

Danish design is in a position not to be too subject to the dictates of fashion and trends. Since its resurgence almost ten years ago it has imposed its own aesthetic in other creative areas as well. The design we offer at The Boutique Danoise has become classic design that certainly uses some elements currently in vogue but that doesn’t try to disguise itself in order to renew itself.

 

A view of the Boutique Danoise – House of Finn Juhl showroom. Hans J. Wegner designed the solid wood table concept, shown above, in 1962, as well as a variety of dining chairs including the Elbow Chair and the Wishbone Chair.

What does the future hold for Danish design? Will it go in new directions, stay true to its past or manage to do both? Who are up-and-coming Danish designers to look out for?

I hope that in the future Danish design will continue to build on the fundamental principles mentioned in answer one (above). However, Danish design calls for a skilled human workforce and as an intermediary in this market, I can only note the increase in the prices of the items from year to year. It is now very complicated for the new Danish design houses to offer a production made in Denmark.

Young Danish designers like Cecilie Manz, ByKATO and Norm Architects continue to develop and create products with innovative design, always with the same desire for functionalism. However, for the last ten years Danish manufacturers have been using talented designers from other countries such as Jaime Hayon and the Bouroullec Brothers, who have had a huge success with the public.

 

White porcelain sugar bowl from the Finn Juhl Essence range (1952) produced by ArchitectMade sits atop the two-sided teak FJ Turning Tray (1956) to the right of the FJ teak bowl (1951). The Ovalette Table by Ilmari Tapiovaara (1954) sits on Finn Juhl’s Circle Rug (1963).

 

What do Genevans particularly embrace and enjoy about Danish design and decor?

Our Genevan public especially likes the quality of the finishes, the aesthetics of Danish design as well as its comfort. The simple and clean lines, the noble materials, the possibility for personalization, all its elements are essential for our customers. In addition, it’s very easy to create a warm and cozy interior with Danish furniture and also to integrate a Danish piece into an already furnished space; Danish design fits well into a pre-existing decor.

 

Boutique-Danoise Geneva

Natural materials, pure lines, comfort and excellent craftsmanship characterise Danish furniture design.

 

What do you personally admire about Danish design? Do you have favorite pieces, either in furniture or decorative elements?

I like the care taken in the manufacturing process. The nobility of the materials. The know-how, the techniques transmitted since the beginning of the 20th century and which remain the same. The coherence between aesthetics and functionality. The feeling of wellbeing achieved by the balance between pleasing the eye and the body. The timeless character of the lines. The influence exercised on the rest of the world during the great era of design from Brazil to Japan through the United States. It’s difficult to look at only a few pieces and to rate them, there are so many beautiful achievements, but I’m particularly sensitive to the output of the houses Finn Juhl, Møbler or J.L. Møllers. 

 

La Boutique Danoise
Rue Pictet de Rochemont, 16
1207 Geneve
Tél: + 41 22 700 78 48
geneve@laboutiquedanoise.com
Tuesday to Friday: 9h00 – 18h30
Saturday: 10h – 17h30
On Instagram

 

 

 

Helpful links:
House of Finn-Juhl
PP Møbler
J.L. Møllers Møbelfabrik
Hans J. Wegner
Grete Jalk
Kay Bojesen

This is not a sponsored post. All photos by Creative Living Geneva.

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

5 Comments

  1. Martin says

    Classic modern and timeless designs – Love it !!! So glad to see this craftsmanship is surviving !!!

    Like

  2. Virginia says

    I love the clean lines and elegance of Scandi furniture. No need for fluff. Super post and would love to spend time in that shop!

    Like

  3. Wow, I LOVE this shop. There’s something so clear and easy to understand about mid-century Danish design, which is exciting, but kind of restful, too.

    How cool that the France chair came as a kit! Very “democratic” in that everyone, assuming it wasn’t priced out of reach, could make one.

    Those birds are wonderful, too. I’d want one in every colour and would line them up on a high shelf, like a wacky take on Alfred Hitchock’s The Birds.

    Great post and lovely photos, Cook!
    xo
    Pam

    Like

    • Thanks so much! It was such a pleasure learning the history and background of Danish design… I’m with you, too: I love every one of those adorable birds!

      Like

You are welcome to leave a comment or question.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.