Just a quick summary of my thoughts from the Cabinetmakers’ exhibition at Øregaard ….
As you would expect, the quality of the work displayed was phenomenal - that is the quality of workmanship generally and finish. These pieces of furniture were made for an exhibition where they would be seen close up and would be examined carefully and critically but quality of finish is, in any case, a hallmark of Danish furniture production.
Some exotic timbers have been used - as you would expect from cabinetmakers and with the setting and theme of the exhibition - but there were also standard commercial materials such as MDF and plywood so even what are considered to be everyday materials do have a place in the production of fine furniture and the opposite is true … just because relatively cheap materials are used the manufacturer has no excuse to not finish the works properly.
Several works used a strong juxtaposition of different materials … concrete and finely finished maple in Offline or pierced metal sheet aluminium and oak in Clash.
Bent tubular steel frames were used for several of the pieces - an interesting echo of industrial designs from the Bauhaus and of course others. Metal tubing does not have to be a second choice and does not have to mean a stark industrial look to the finished furniture.
Using metal rod for a chair or table frame can mean thinner elements and tight, neat joins particularly if, as in this exhibition, the interpretation of elegant equals thin.
Plain strong colours were used in some works with either a very high gloss or a very flat matt … both mean, at this exhibition standard, that the surface and the finish have to be perfect as any flaws stand out. That is something commercial manufacturers should always take into account.
There were a lot of circles.
Garderobier, LovorikaBanovic, Kvind Smedjen
The terms of the competition, restricting the overall size, meant that there could not, for instance, be a sofa or a set of chairs but several of the works were tall to compensate for the restricted base size of 60 x 60 cm. This worked well with the theme of elegance.
Probably smaller pieces of furniture like these are more personal pieces suitable for a private space like a study or a bedroom than a busy family space full of bouncing lively children.
Several works were multiples that stacked or slid into each other - a very good idea in smaller rooms or where the furniture is used occasionally.
Again as you might expect with an an exhibition designed to show skill and virtuosity - even if deliberately subdued - there were several clever tricks with hidden drawers and so on.
Nearly all the pieces were practical so they avoided being clever for the sake of being clever. Nearly all could be made and marketed commercially.
There were hardly any direct references to historic designs - surprising given the theme and venue. The main exception was the tall elegant Cabinet that took structural details from the display cabinets at the Design Museum by Kaare Klint with rounded inner corners to the glazing in very thin frames.
However, echoes of historic designs were appropriate - again because of the venues and the theme. There were clear links to the work, for instance, of Eileen Gray who designed furniture generally for small intimate spaces such as dressing rooms or studies.