When it comes to true Danish modern furniture design, there is, in my opinion, no one more important than the architect-designer Finn Juhl. He developed a new direction in the established form of classical craftsman-produced furniture made by the likes of Ole Wanscher, Børge Mogensen, and Fritz Henningsen, among others. As opposed to their neoclassical style, Juhl devised pieces with sculptural and organic lines, built with a sensitivity to the beauty of handmade cabinetry.
There were several companies that produced Juhl’s designs, including ones that employed top-of-the-line individual joinery methods as well as ones that used mass-production techniques. Of course the rarity of pieces and the form of manufacture play a large role in pricing Juhl’s work. Naturally the handmade and smaller production run designs command a higher price than the machine-made furnishings produced in bulk. But there is always a touch of craft even in his mass-market pieces, showcasing Juhl’s expertise at creating designs that beckon the client to sit, run his or her hands along the sweeping curves of the arms, and enjoy a chair that perfectly fits the body.
A step better, in terms of design aesthetics, are the pieces Juhl designed for the American company Baker Modern. Baker, beginning about 1950, was the first company to institute mass-market production of his designs. Prior to that only the Danish cabinetmaker Niels Vodder made Juhl’s pieces. Some of the items Baker produced were American-made versions of those the Vodder firm crafted in Denmark, such as the “NV 45” and “NV 48” chairs and even Juhl’s most famous design, the 1949 “Chieftain” chair (more on that later). But Juhl also designed a line of furniture especially for Baker Modern, and one example from that series is shown here. The coffee table is made with a solid walnut frame and a sycamore top. The edges are flared upward, a feature of many of the pieces Juhl designed for Baker. The quality is there, but the fluidity of the cabinetmaker-made pieces is lacking. That said, the designs specifically for Baker Modern had a more sculptural aspect than the simple and straightforward pieces Juhl later designed for France and Søn and other firms.
Appropriate price: $2,400