Looking at the first selection of Danish chairs that have been the subject of the posts here over the last month or so then it seemed important to look at a chair that is clearly not modern ... or rather a chair that is relatively traditional and relatively conventional and that few people would describe as modern … unless, of course, they normally study medieval or renaissance furniture.
It is also an opportunity to consider the role of Kaare Klint in the development of Danish design in the 20th century. Born in 1888, he was a generation or more older than the key architects and designers of modern Danish design from the classic period of the 1950s and 1960s but he was a key figure, in part because he taught many of those designers but, more important, through his work on ergonomics, he encouraged a new rational and quite practical approach to designing furniture.
He came from a well-established family and his view of architecture and furniture could hardly be described as revolutionary but his approach, directly and indirectly, lead to the development of the collaboration between the cabinetmakers and young designers that ensured that the move towards factory production was slower than it might have been and that was actually important because it maintained a sense of individuality, a willingness to experiment, a practice of real partnership between the designer and the maker that benefitted both and an ongoing appreciation of craftsmanship, the intrinsic qualities of materials used but specifically wood and an imposition of high-quality for production that was lost in most other countries.
The chair was commissioned for the offices of the Thorvaldesn Museum in Copenhagen. That very idea of commissioning a specific chair, rather than just buying a more expensive chair for a public building, in itself looks back to the past in major civic buildings but in Denmark the practice continued - particularly with the architect of a major building designing much if not all the furniture … so, for instance, with the work of Arne Jacobsen at the town hall of Søllerød in the 1930s.
This design looks back in its form to a chair that Klint designed for the museum at Faaborg in 1914. The frame is in oak and has a sharply curved high back support. The legs are bent or flared slightly outwards to provide stability and the seat has cane work that supports the separate leather cushion so that means the frame of the seat can be thinner and it avoids the need for employing a specialist upholsterer. The precision of the cabinetwork means that there is sufficient strength in the frame for cross stretchers to be omitted.
The original Faaborg Chair had cane in the panels of the back and was made in burl oak. Another version with a solid back but that flares out at the top was made by the cabinetmaker N M Rasmussen for Aage Lunn and another version with a fixed leather seat was produced in the 1930s.
chair photographed at Designmuseum Danmark
height to seat 49cm
made by the cabinetmake N C Jensen Kjær