J16 Gyngestol / Rocking Chair by Hans Wegner 1944

Hans Wegner designed a number of rocking chairs that were inspired by the 19th-century Shaker rocking chair in the collection at the design museum in Copenhagen. He copied the simple, straight, turned legs that are bird-mouthed over the shaped and distinctive rockers and he copied the vertical and distinctly upright and high back posts of the chair.

However, in this version, he combined those distinct elements with vertical rails for the back and a deeper head rest that were inspired by traditional Windsor chairs from England.

With Børge Mogensen - who he knew from the School of Arts and Crafts - Wegner was commissioned by Frederik Nielsen of the Danish Cooperative Union (FDB) to design a range of good, well-made furniture to be sold at a reasonable price that could be afforded by couples and young families living in smaller houses or two and three-room apartments. 

Designs from this early period of the FDB included the J39 - a chair designed by Børge Mogensen that was also inspired by Shaker design - with a ‘Shaker’ table or Shakerbord C18 and a version of the rocking chair from 1944 by Wegner but with thin curved horizontal slats across the back - closer to the style of the Shaker chair but slightly more robust. The rocking chair by Wegner is wider than the Shaker chair and was advertised as a nursing chair for young mothers.

The version of the rocking chair with Shaker-style horizontal slats across the back for FDB was made by Tarm Stole- & Møbelfabrik but Carl Hansen & Son made the version of the rocking chair with vertical spindles across the back - model CH45 - from 1965 onwards and Fredericia still make a version of the J16 Rocking Chair in oak or beech with the seat in woven cord.

height: 107cm
width: 63cm
depth: 93cm
height of seat: 42cm

Fredericia


 
 

an outsize version of the chair that was made for the exhibition at Designmuseum Danmark in 2014 that marked the anniversary of the birth of Hans Wegner

Spanish Chair by Børge Mogensen 1958

 

Børge Mogensen - the zebra skin and the wall hanging suggest that the photograph was taken in 1958 on the exhibition stand of the cabinetmaker Erhard Rasmussen at Kunstindustrimusset

 

designed by Børge Mogensen in 1958
shown by Erhard Rasmussen at the Cabinetmakers’ Guild Exhibition at Kunstindustrimuseet in Copenhagen in 1958

made by Fredericia

height: 67 cm
width: 82.5 cm
depth: 60 cm
height of seat: 33 cm

 

Designed by Børge Mogensen - The Spanish Chair was first shown in September and October 1958 at the Cabinetmakers’ Guild Exhibition at Kunstindutrimuseet in Copenhagen - now called Designmuseum Danmark. Produced by the Danish furniture company Fredericia - they are now celebrating its 60th anniversary.

The chair was shown in an interesting room setting along with a very large sofa upholstered in a giant check that was said to be large enough to sleep three and there was a zebra skin on the floor and models of yacht hulls across the wall … all with the title “furniture for a country house.”

They were described by the critic Johan Møller Nielsen as -

“the chair and couch for the consummate idler! It is hardly possible to make furniture more expensive than this. The whole interior is wonderful to look at and to to be in, and it would be well suited to be exhibited in one of the rooms of the ‘Louisiana’ museum of modern art as an example of the best furniture design of our age. But it is of no value whatsoever to the average citizen …”

Louisiana - just up the coast from the city - had only opened that August.

Even reading the criticism several times, and having typed it out, it’s not clear if this is praise or criticism.

Of course, it’s ironic that Børge Mogensen, is being damned here, apparently, for designing furniture that the average citizen could not afford, because he was and is best known not just as one of the great designers of his generation but through the 1940s as the head of design for FDB - the Danish Coop - when they produced well-designed modern furniture of a high quality and at the lowest price possible.

For the exhibition in 1958 the set of Spanish chairs were made by the cabinetmaker Erhard Rasmussen but the design was then produced by the Danish furniture company Fredericia who still make the chair.

To mark the anniversary of the Spanish Chair, Fredericia have relaunched the dining chairs, with and without arms, that were designed in 1964 that have the same form of set and back rest with leather stretched across the frame and held in place with large buckles.

Fredericia

Trinidad Chair by Nanna Ditzel 1993

 

The Trinidad Chair is one of the most distinct and most unusual of modern Danish chairs made in plywood. It was designed by Nanna Ditzel and was given that name because the fretwork of facades in Trinidad, seen by her on trips to the island, had been the initial inspiration for the design.

It has a low, simple but elegant frame in metal tube and the seat and the back rest of the chair are cut from separate pieces of laminated wood that are both in a fan shape that is almost reminiscent of the shape of a segment of a citrus fruit. Both backrest and seat are cut through with precisely cut slits that are fanned out gently across the shape.

Both the seat and the back rest are fixed to the frame with large flat rivets but what is striking is that the metal frame of the back is not taken across the top of the back rest but is set low and holds the bottom edge of the back rest to give the chair a form of construction and a silhouette that has a lightness and elegance that is unique in Danish chairs.

There are versions of the Trinidad with arm rests and options for an upholstered pad for the seat.

Made by the Danish furniture company Fredericia, the chair came originally in a number of wood finishes including maple, cherry, beech, birch and walnut but there are now options for colours for both the wood and the metal frame and the chair has just been released in new colours - a palette of soft warm greys selected by the Swedish design blogger Pella Hedeby - to mark the 25th anniversary of its launch.

Fredericia

 

 

Trinidad Chair in the permanent collection of Designmuseum Danmark in Copenhagen

 

height: 85 cm
width: 48.5 cm
depth: 57 cm
height of seat: 45.5 cm
weight: 4kg

note:

a bar stool version - with smaller seat and back - has a seat height of 76.5 cm