At the last international auction of the year in Copenhagen, we will be offering three of the most iconic Nordic furniture classics – Alvar Aalto’s Paimio Chair (1931–32), Finn Juhl’s Chieftain Chair (1949) and Jonas Bohlin’s Concrete Chair (1980).
“The fact that we have the three biggest Nordic design icons at our international design auction in December is a real stroke of luck. All of them share the simple Nordic design idiom, albeit interpreted in three very different ways – by a Finn in 1930s, a Dane in 1940s and a Swede in the 1980s,” explains Peter Kjelgaard, head of the department of 20th century design and craft art at Bruun Rasmussen Auctioneers.
Alvar Aalto (1898–1976)
Finland’s most famous architect and designer, and one of the greatest pioneers of organic modernism. Between 1924 and 1929, he conducted several experiments with the bending of laminated wood and moulded veneer, which helped revolutionise modern furniture design. One of his greatest achievements is the iconic “Paimio Chair”, which was designed for the tuberculosis sanatorium in Paimio in 1931–32. The comfortable, functional design of the chair heralded the beginning of a new era that put Nordic design on the world map with its simple, soft and very human idiom.
Finn Juhl (1912–1989)
An exponent of the same design tradition as Aalto, Juhl is world famous for his organic furniture. Working with his long-standing collaborator, cabinetmaker Niels Vodder, he created some of the most distinctive and iconic pieces in Danish design history, including the Chieftain Chair. According to Juhl, the name “Chieftain Chair” stems from the time when Frederik IX tried sitting in it at the Cabinetmakers’ Guild Exhibition in 1949. Following this, a journalist asked Finn Juhl whether the chair should be appropriately named the “King Chair”. However, the architect felt it was too pretentious and replied “I'd rather you called it the Chieftain Chair”.
Jonas Bohlin (1953–)
He originally trained as a civil engineer, but made his name as a furniture designer when he graduated in interior design from Konstfackskolan in Stockholm in 1981, when he shocked the entire design world with his Concrete Chair. He quickly assumed the leading position in the Nordic countries in the 1980s, and was an exponent of the postmodern era, which to some extent was in contrast to the organic idiom of earlier years. He retained the simple expression, however. Speaking about his attitude to design, Bohlin said “I want my furniture to make an impression, to please and to communicate with time and space. It should be made with hands and heart, and it should show consideration for man and nature.” This sums up perfectly the essence of Nordic design tradition.
Nordic design auction
Bruun Rasmussen Auctioneers, Bredgade 33, Copenhagen
Preview: 24–28 November
Nordic design auction: 8 December
The Nordic design auction includes a wide selection of nordic design classics from the 20th century.
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 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 Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Thailand and the US. About 100,000 lots are auctioned off each year at the eight traditional auctions and the daily online auctions. Here you can bid on everything from art, antiques, modern design and jewellery to books, coins, stamps, wine and weapons.