House of Finn Juhl at Frederiksgade 1

 

3daysofdesign is when design companies and manufacturers and studios in Copenhagen open their doors to show everyone their designs and products and take that opportunity to explain the why and the how and the what of the design world in the city.

House of Finn Juhl have showrooms in Frederiksgade and they showed some of their best furniture so this was the opportunity to not only look at furniture up close but to sit on chairs or ask questions.

In one of the rooms, as the centre piece, was a Silver Table, designed by Juhl in 1948 with 30 inset discs that give the design its nickname of the Judas Table.

It was set for a grand meal but between the plates and glasses were parts of some of the classic Juhl chairs so for instance an arm of a Chair 45 or chair FJ45.

This was the first time I had seen the sections of a chair by Juhl before they had been assembled and so, of course, took photographs.

With so many things - like magic tricks or great culinary dishes - to have the trick explained often spoils the illusion. Curiously, here it was exactly the opposite.

Discussions about designs by Juhl inevitably point out a contrast between Finn Juhl and his contemporary Hans Wegner in that designs by Wegner seem to have evolved as designer and cabinetmaker resolved how to realise a design by working through what could be done and how whereas Juhl appears to have had a very clear idea of what he required and it was up to the craftsman to work out just how to make that happen.

Seeing the parts of a Juhl chair laid out did not spoil the trick … rather it was the opposite because, looking at the smooth, complex and almost organic shapes and the precision and cutting of the joins for fixing together the parts, the workmanship seemed even more amazing and it was possible to understand exactly why modern machinery for cutting and shaping wood makes the production of these chairs possible.

What I still don't understand is how a craftsman can see in a piece of timber the line of the finished piece where the grain, that reflects natural growth of an individual tree, is used to enhance the finished piece rather than being a perverse and difficult part of the natural material that can and will form a line of weakness.

House of Finn Juhl

 

Jasper Overgaard and Christian Dyrman at Frederiksgade 1

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Jasper Overgaard and Christian Dyrman have a studio and showroom space on the fourth floor at Frederiksgade 1.

For 3daysofdesign they had a long table with a dark top down the centre of the main room with all the parts from one of their chairs set out … so there were separate slots in the top that took each of the different wires and parts of the steel frame and cut outs for all the pieces of leather for the seat and back and all the straps and rivets that go to make up a finished chair.

 

 

Most people, if they think about the design process, will assume that to design furniture then all that is needed is a nice sketch, maybe with colour wash or probably an impressive CAD drawing in 3D with rendering and then maybe a swatch or two of colours or materials … and that's it.

In reality, of course, that at most describes the initial concept phase and usually a huge amount of thought and research and experience and training will have been needed to come up with that concept.

Here, with the chair from Overgaard & Dyrman you see how many parts there are and that the form, and precise details of each part has to be meticulously determined and then you see, with the tools on show, just how much skill is required to make those parts and then assemble a chair.

 

 

Overgaard & Dyrman illustrate so well that core strength of Danish design where design and manufacture are in partnership - both disciplines contributing to the creation of the finished work.

Here, of course, the designers are the makers and the makers are the designers so it proves that other maxim that actually the best designs so often come from a complete understanding of the materials and techniques being used and that understanding can never be as thorough or as complete as when it is worked out at the work bench.

OVERGAARD & DYRMAN

3daysofdesign at Frederiksgade 1

 

working drawings shown by Overgaard & Dyrman along with many of the tools that they use to make their metal and leather chairs

 

The large apartment building at Frederiksgade 1 is close to the Marble Church and has been hemmed in by engineering works for the new metro station so for several years the front entrance has been reduced to a sort of narrow alley fenced across by high dark-green hoardings and has had a ‘temporary’ wooden ramp over the front stone steps. 

But this building is home to an amazing group of design companies. In fact it connects through to the furniture store nyt i bo that is sort of across the courtyard at Store Kongensgade 88 … sort of because at upper levels all the apartment spaces, all round the courtyard and above nyt i bo, are occupied by design companies. For design in Copenhagen it is - to use a word I hate using - a hub.

Here there are offices or studios or display space for House of Finn Juhl, File Under Pop, Helle Flou, Overgaard & Dyrman, PLEASE WAIT to be SEATED, Vibeke Fonnesberg Schmidt and others … and, of course, across the top of the whole thing, Getama.

For 3daysofdesign nyt i bo hosted a number of pop-up displays and demonstrations by companies including dk3 and Sika-Design.

One of the entries in the programme for 3daysofdesign describe the place as a “creative society” and packed out with visitors on the first evening I guess that is a much better description of the place than as a hub.