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Rare Danish Design from the 1930s up for auction

Press Release   •   Feb 19, 2018 07:30 GMT

Vilhelm Lauritzen: A unique 1,5 seater sofa (1934). Estimate: DKK 200,000-250,000 (€ 27,000-33,500)

Flemming Lassen, Vilhelm Lauritzen, Salto and “PH” – at the upcoming auction we will dive into the early period of Danish Modernism with a series of exceptional and rare designs from the 1930s. The auction takes place in Copenhagen on 7-8 March.

"”Danish Modern” usually refers to the golden age of Danish design between 1949-1970, but at this year’s first auction in Copenhagen we will go a little further back in time to the 1930s – to the earliest period within Danish Modernism, to see how it played out within furniture, lamps and decorative art," says Peter Kjelgaard, head of the design department. 

At the time the Danish designers followed international events closely, where the experiences from World War I manifested themselves during the following decades in a desire to reform society and create a better way of life for everyone. With Bauhaus as a standard-bearer, new concepts for urban development, housing and furniture design were produced to match the requirements of modern life. In Denmark the international Modernism’s radical ideas were rarely expressed in their purest form. For the Danish architects it was paramount that the focus on form, function and new materials did not obstruct the human aspect or the fine craftsmanship. The first Danish attempts in the 1930s to interpret the international Modernism, therefore, had a more soft and humanistic idiom than the international iterations.

“The Tired Man” and “The Lady’s” One-of-a-kind Sofa

Among the auction’s furniture pieces from the 1930s you have the chance to get acquainted with some of the most exceptional and rare designs from the period. A peculiar coincidence is that a number of the highlights were all designed around 1935. We begin with one of the period’s greatest classics, Frits Henningsen’s high back wing chair, while the foresighted architect Flemming Lassen is responsible for two of the auction’s upholstered furniture pieces from the same year in the shape of ”The Tired Man” easy chair and a sofa, both of which take their starting point in his characteristic focus on craftsmanship and an almost naive idiom. These furniture pieces were produced by the cabinetmakers A.J. Iversen and Jacob Kjær and appear with their original upholstery. Vilhelm Lauritzen is represented with a one-of-a-kind sofa and chair from 1934. The sofa is upholstered with the original and beautifully patinated niger leather. These furniture pieces were designed by Lauritzen for the bedroom of the lady of the house in Lauritzen's villa on Øregårdsvænget in Hellerup, which was built the same year.

Salto’s Sublime Stoneware

1935 is also the year a grey stoneware jar came to life. The jar was designed by one of the true masters of Danish decorative art, Axel Salto, whose goal it was ”to create in the spirit of nature”. The jar belongs among his fluted patterns and is modelled with branches, fruit and leaves, which together with the crackled glaze provides the most beautiful, organic expression. We find Salto's budded style in another sublime stoneware vase, which is decorated with the distinct acid green Solfatara glaze and designed in 1944.

The Towering Figure of PH

With the architect and social critic Poul Henningsen, also known as “PH”, we return to the years around 1930 with a rare pendant in frosted glass and painted with an Art Deco-looking decoration of red and green spirals. The juxtaposition between PH’s wish for pure functionalism and the added paint on this lamp makes it an interesting example of the architect’s playful approach to his own rules. We can also present one of his hitherto unknown works – a floor lamp with shades of green glass that was presumably made for the Electricity Exhibition in Tivoli in September 1930, where PH was represented at Louis Poulsen’s stand.

Not Your Average Jensen

Georg Jensen certainly belongs to the story of ”Danish Modern” as well. The company brand is mostly known for its decorative art with references to nature, and especially perhaps for the clusters of grapes that you can find in many different versions at this auction. This includes a pitcher, different sizes of the famous tazza with grapes, wine bottle coasters and a pair of large candlesticks – everything designed by Georg Jensen himself between 1918-1932.

Auction: 7-8 March in Bredgade 33 in Copenhagen

Preview: 22-26 February at the same address

View the whole selection of design, decorative art and lighting

Read more about the whole auction

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Bruun Rasmussen Auctioneers is one of Scandinavia’s leading international auction houses, and one of Denmark’s oldest. It all started on 6 October 1948, when Arne Bruun Rasmussen conducted the first traditional auction in the saleroom at Bredgade 33 in Copenhagen. Today, Jesper Bruun Rasmussen stands at the helm of the family-run business together with the third generation of the family, his son Frederik and daughter Alexa, and the company’s CEO Jakob Dupont.

In 2004, the first online auction was launched, and today the auction house has expanded to include departments in Copenhagen and Aarhus and representations in Sweden, Germany, France, Belgium, Luxemburg, Spain, Italy, Thailand and the US. About 100,000 lots are put up for auction each year at the traditional auctions and daily online auctions. Here you can bid on everything from art, antiques, modern design and jewellery to books, coins, stamps, wine and weaponry.