For 3daysofdesign The House of Finn Juhl opened their showroom at Nordre Toldbod in Copenhagen to show their furniture designed by Finn Juhl.
This year Copenhagen is celebrating the anniversary of the formal diplomatic relationship between Denmark and Japan that now dates back 150 years … a connection between the two countries that is particularly important for the House of Finn Juhl because some of their collection is made at workshops in Japan and the House of Finn Juhl Hotel - the Hotel Hakuba - has opened in Nagano and is furnished completely with furniture designed by Juhl.
So, for the events at Nordre Toldbod, it was appropriate that they served noodles - very good noodles - but to drink they offered people beer supplied by Mikkeller and that was served from the back of an old Morris 1000 Traveller that is kitted out with a bar.
Being too clever for my own good I said it was a Morris Minor - there was a Morris Major - but it was known affectionally as a “Moggie Thousand.” It was only when someone asked why that I realised that I wasn’t sure.
Several families we knew had a Morris Traveller at various times in their lives, particularly when they had young children, because they have a surprisingly good load space with good wide doors and in the 50s and 60s smaller estate cars were not that common and that was long before any car maker had even thought up the idea of a hatch back. The only trouble was the Traveller tended to get wood worm and rot.
When I was a kid, we had a Morris Minor but it was the soft top or convertible version which probably sounds quite stylish but dad bought it as a bargain because the roof leaked and the floor pan had rusted so water came up from the road when you drove over puddles and for long journeys we tended to wear wellington boots in the car.
What was worse … much worse … was it had been painted mauve by the previous owner and painted badly.
To be honest I found it a bit embarrassing … particularly the pretty pretty mauve at a time when most cars were still black … so I tended to slump down in the seat, below the sill line, in case I was spotted by school mates, though I guess everyone knew it was our car.
After getting back from Nordre Toldbod, I dug through the old photos and found this.
From the state of the garden it must have been just as we moved into the new house in 1959. I do remember that the house was described as “executive housing” though that can’t explain why I was wearing a suit and tie and, to be honest, neither dad nor the car look as if they are straight off the set of Mad Men.
I can’t even remember who took the photo but what I do remember is that just after it was taken my brother … him of the snazzy tartan trousers … decided to be helpful and shut the front door but with us outside and all the house keys inside. It meant calling the police and it became even more exciting when a patrol car turned up and a young copper appeared with a length of wire to hook open the door latch by trying to reach it through the letter box. It seemed like a good idea but he obviously had not had much practice breaking into houses and slipped putting his knee through the glass of the door. At least we got in by reaching carefully through the large hole in the glass to turn the latch.
None of this is relevant to a design blog except that for historians of design the Morris 1000 was produced from 1948 onwards and so is contemporary with Wegner’s Round Chair though I’d be hard pushed to come up with stylistic connections for any sort of zeitgeist.
For my parents this house was an important sign that they and England were finally moving away from the austerity of the years immediately after the war and through the 1960s they bought new furniture for the house including a Danish sofa and armchairs from France & Son. The company made the original Japan Settee by Finn Juhl - which could have been a neat rounding off for this tale - but, in fact, we had the sofa and chairs with teak frames designed by Greta Jalk.