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Qualitative Design

Børge Mogensen Buyer’s Guide: Iconic

This (series of) blogpost(s) is different. Usually, I introduce a piece of qualitative design here, be it from long ago or a brand new product. This time however, I succumb to my dedication to my design hero: Børge Mogensen. In this post I offer you a short Buyer’s Guide if you  consider to buy one of Mogensen’s design without the need to worry about financial resources…

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Mogensen’s own home: 2213 sofa and Spanish chairs

Let’s fancy again. You love Mogensen’s designs and you have the money to buy whatever you want, without financial limits… The good news is: you hardly can buy anything wrong. The bad news however is that everyone will suppose you will buy one of Mogensen’s leather chairs (2204 or 2207), his famous sofa (2213), or a (pair of) Spanish chair(s). These, of course, would all be very fine choices indeed. No wonder, since some of these were Mogensen’s choice of his own home. But let’s suppose you have the urgent wish to avoid those more or less obvious choices. What if you want to buy something different? Let me suggest a couple of alternatives.

Consider the Hunting chair. More exclusive in comparison with the Spanish chair. Less practical as well… (it’s seat height is iconic low…). But it is tremendously beautiful. Mogensen designed the hunting lodge he exposed at the Snedkerlaugets Møbeludstilling in 1950. Imagine you would supplement the hunting chair by buying a hunting table (with folding legs), which Mogensen designed for the same exposition. A superb combination according to me.

But perhaps you are looking for something really different. What do you think of his Sleigh chair. Mogensen designed in 1953, before he started his collaboration with Fredericia, and made by Tage Kristiansen. It shows resemblance with Wegner’s Papa Bear, not – I would suggest – because Mogensen copied Wegner’s design. But because both designers used classic chair types as a source of inspiration. Mogensen’s sleigh chair is very rare (and expensive), so you will have to look very hard if you want to buy one. It should of course have an accompanying ottoman as well. And if you’d ask me, a light colour (variations of white) suits it best. This really is an iconic piece.

As it comes to sofas one of Mogensen’s most iconic designs, is his Coupé Sofa (2192). It is one of his lateste designs, from 1971. The sofa was inspired by the British hall porter’s chair, which is a classic wing chair designed to retain the heat from the open fireplaces. Hence the name ‘Coupé Sofa’, because it encloses you just like the comfortable seats in first-class train coupés. I really love it.

Finally, I want to point you to another direction. Mogensen designed a series of superb (modular) cabinets for FDB, which were produced by CM Madsen in the 1950’s. These cabinets were inspired by Chinese designs and are incredibly beautiful. The design is invariably sober, simple, but very refined. The true excellence is to be found in details like the handles. In the late fifties Mogensen once again made some beautiful cabinets, this time for P. Lauritsen and Son. Any of these cabinets, sideboards or chest drawers will be a good choice and worth the money. It would add a typical Mogensen feeling to your home: not showy, but instead breathing a timeless beauty.

© Text: Qualitative Design

Børge Mogensen Buyer’s Guide: Mid-range

This (series of) blogpost(s) is different. Usually, I introduce a piece of qualitative design here, be it from long ago or a brand new product. This time however, I succumb to my dedication to my design hero: Børge Mogensen. In this post I offer you a short Buyer’s Guide if you  consider to buy one of Mogensen’s design with a tidy sum of money, but not unlimited…

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BM 2219 (Photo credit: http://dk.ronstrand.com/stue-indretning)

Let’s fancy you have a tidy sum of money (between €/$ 500,- and 1500,-) set apart to buy a Mogensen piece. It will mean that the most famous icons (leather armchairs or sofa, Hunting or Spanish chairs, China cabinet) will probably be out of reach (unless you are very lucky) The first question you’d ask yourself is: why do you want to buy it? Your answer is important for deciding which choice is best for you. Do you want to buy it purely due to aesthetic reasons? Or are you pursuing a Mogensen piece with the idea to start collecting design furniture in general or Mogensen’s work in particular? Of course, you may have both, but your point of departure is different.

Let’s start with the first option: you want to buy a Mogensen piece due to aesthetic reasons, because you are fond of his sober Scandinavian design language. Let me suggest a few options in that case. You might consider to buy a 2218 three seater sofa or even better the four seater 2019 sofa. In the picture above you can see how it gives a wonderful Scandinavian ambiance. In his later years Mogensen designed a similar sofa, for two or three persons, the BM 2342 and 2343.

There are other options, of course. Consider a table for example. Mogensen designed it in different periods of his career. Very well known is his C18 Shaker table, originally produced by FDB, still in production with Fredericia. My personal favourite is another Shaker table, the BM 6286 (or its little brother, the BM 6289) designed in 1965 and also produced by Fredericia. This table is hard to get below 1500,-. Also from Fredericia and well-known is the BM 6284, from solid oak, just like the other tables (although older types of the C18 were produced in beech).

These sofa’s and tables are all lovely and typical species of the Scandinavian aesthetic. They don’t point to themselves, but breathe the simplicity and tranquility that are so distinctive in Mogensen’s design philosophy. Mogensen’s furniture in oak however is intimately connected with his sober design language. Not everyone would be satisfied with this simplicity. Some buyers might want something more outspoken or notable. In that case, you should consider different pieces of furniture. The two key words in that case are ‘leather’ and ‘teak’. In the first category, the obvious choice would be one of Mogensen’s famous leather chairs (like the Spanish chair or the BM 2207). But I’ll assume that this is not within (financial) reach. What options do you have? Think, for example, of two BM 3237 or 3238’s. In that case you would buy (a) beautiful and timeless chair(s) which will be your favourite, I’m sure! Please, be careful, because sometimes the BM 3251 – originally clothed with fabric – is relined with leather and sold as an original 3238. Note the different joining between the legs of the chairs and (sometimes) the different quality of the leather!

The other option is looking for a piece of furniture in teak. You might consider one of Mogensen’s teak cabinets, sideboards or secretaries, produced by Soborg. They are quite popular, as is the case with all teak Danish modern furniture, but it should be possibel to find something nice. A sofa or coffee table might be worth considering as well. Mogensen designed lots of sofa tables, not only in oak, but also in other types of wood. Take for example the iconic (in my eyes at least) 264, produced by Fredericia. This would be a very convincing choice.

What to choose then? That of course is a matter of taste, but also of value for money. For sure, all pieces of Mogensen provide value for money. There are differences as well. At this moment teak furniture is valued higher than furniture in oak. But if you’d ask me, I would prefer buying (a) leather chair(s). You won’t regret it.

© Text: Qualitative Design

Børge Mogensen Buyer’s Guide: Budget

This (series of) blogpost(s) is different. Usually, I introduce a piece of qualitative design here, be it from long ago or a brand new product. This time however, I succumb to my dedication to my design hero: Børge Mogensen. In this post I offer you a short Buyer’s Guide if you  consider to buy one of Mogensen’s design with almost nothing to spend…

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BM 2340

Let’s fancy, you have about € 500,- (or if you like $ 500,-) and you have this strong impulse, this undeniable desire to buy a piece of furniture from Børge Mogensen. It will be your first item from his hand. But what do you buy? A few principles are non-negotiable. You has to be an original piece. Imitation is definitely no option. In particular, because we are talking about Mogensen, master of proportion, advocate of quality. Every imitation of his furniture lacks both: his sense of proportion and the uncompromising level of quality. So, we are looking for a true original!

Your first glimpse at 1stdibs for example might lead to shudders of despair. Those prices… But there is no need of despair. There are many alternatives, like auction sites, online marketplaces, shops, and so forth. Determine how much effort you are prepared to make. Do you really want to buy at a foreign auction site (remember the procedures, VAT, and so on). And of course, you’d better be patient. But leaving that aside for now, your first task is to determine what kind of piece of furniture you want to purchase. A small table, a little book case maybe? In this post, I will take the quest for a chair as an example.

From here, you have basically two options. One option is to invest in a (more or less) classic piece. Mogensen’s true classics, like the Spanish chair or his leather chairs are out of reach of course. But think of one (if you consider to buy it new) or two People’s chairs (J-39) for example…  There are many of them, but they remain true classics! Simple, solid, elegant, beautiful. Another classic option would be his Windsor chair (J-52). Its worth should not exceed your budget. Both chairs were produced by FDB Møbler. Yet another option is a chair produced by Soborg, the classic Soborg Chair (recently reintroduced by Fredericia) or the less well known no. 147 for example.

However, you might consider another option. It was the way I chose. Mogensen was a productive man and lots of his designs are forgotten nowadays. You might look for one of those, although it might be not very easy, since they are not well known. What do you think of a 2340 armchair for example, one of his later (and not very popular) designs. Mogensen designed also lots of relatively unknown dining chairs, like a BM 73, a 3233 or a 3248 for example. Or you might consider a 2257, also produced by Fredericia, and designed in the late 1960’s for  a retirement home. This last chair, the 2257, was my first Mogensen piece, which I bought for € 60,-. It was not the Mogensen chair I dreamed of…  But still, I was proud to have it!

In general, this last option should be less expensive than the first option. It should be now, at the moment you buy, but it very probably will be at the moment you want to sell your chair again, because you want to buy another piece of furniture… That moment could come. I happen to know…

Next post will be devoted to those who can afford more in their quest for Mogensen’s furniture.

© Text: Qualitative Design

Ateljé Lyktan Supertube: Form follows Innovation

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In the mid 1960’s former Philips’ design manager Anders Pehrson joined the Swedish company ateljé Lyktan. One of his first  designs (from 1967) for ateljé Lyktan was Supertube. In fact, it was an innovation of an existing tube lamp. Ongoing development enabled the extension of tube luminaires into long tracks. In particular, the application of connections in different sorts, be it straight, curved or angled,  made it possible to apply lighting tracks, that makes curves, rounds corners and changes direction. As the picture of a product brochure from the 1970’s shows, this feature was higlighted as a distinctive characteristic of the Supertube.

But there was more to this lamp. The luminaire could be turned through 360 degrees on its own axis, which means light could be directed up, down or to the sides. This was innovative as well. Moreover, Supertube was produced in a range of colours, as the beautiful picture of ateljé Lyktan’s factory hall shows. No wonder then, since Anders Pehrson’s watchwords becomes Form, Function, Colour and Family.

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Pictures from http://www.atelje-lyktan.se

The well known slogan ‘Form follows Function’ applies to ateljé Lyktan’s Supertube. However, it seems even more apt to summarize it by saying: ‘Form follows Innovation’.

© Text: Qualitative Design

 

Mogensen 2431: Timeless Aristocracy

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Børge Mogensen is well known for his dedication to ‘social furniture’. That is, furniture which was ment to fulfill the needs of ordinary people, be it furniture for storage, seating, dining or sleeping. He is also well known for his ‘high end furniture’. One could mention the famous Spanish chair, the Hunting chair or the 2213 sofa, which has been used all over the world in Danish embassies. This sofa was designed by Mogensen in 1963, along with a line of other chairs and sofas in leather.

The chair this post is devoted to, the 2431, is from a later date and less well known as – say – the 2204 or the 2207. No wonder perhaps, since its production (by Fredericia) started in 1975, three years after Mogensen’s death. Actually, the design of this chair is sometimes attributed to Peter Mogensen, Børge’s son, who worked with his father in the studio. However, I owed a 2431 myself (see the pictures below) and this chair seems to have been designed by Børge Mogensen himself. This is what the mark at the chair tells: ‘Design: Børge Mogensen’. This is important, because Fredericia explicitly tells us when it is different, as is the case with the 2334 and 2335, which are designed by Peter Mogensen (on the basis of Børge’s designs of the 2332 and 2333). Moreover, the 2381, the lower version of this chair (in fabric), was definitely designed by Børge Mogensen and produced from 1971. The 2431 shows also family resemblance with the 2192, the famous coupé sofa. After his death, thousands of drawings were found by the family. It is highly probable that the drawings of the 2431 were among these. It must have been one of his final designs. The chair was produced until 2012, the last part of its career under the name of 2331, available in fabric and leather.

In comparison with the designs of the 2204 and the 2207, the design of the 2431 has developed into a more austere direction, in line with other designs of his later furniture. The 2431 shares the aristocracy with the older designs and the superb quality of its materials. Mogensen was emphatic in his choice for leather from bulls, not from cows, since the structure of bull leather is tighter and stronger.

 

 

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BM 2431
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BM 2431

It’s a chair of timeless aristocracy! Don’t you agree?

Text: Qualitative Design

Woodlines Rug: the Art of Nature

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Books about Scandinavian Furniture, like Andrew Hollingworth’s Danish Modern and Scandinavian Modern from Magnus Englund & Chrystina Schmidt (with wonderful pictures of Andrew Wood) are a great source of inspiration for me. Recently, the importance of rugs in some of the depicted interiors struck me.

A short exploration led me to a wonderful new rug: Woodlines, designed by Naja Utzon Popov. The name ‘Utzon’ may ring a bell with you, since her grandfather was Jørn Utzon, a Danish architect who designed the world famous Sydney Opera House in Australia. Naja Utzon Popov is a Danish sculptor, textile designer and ceramicist.

She designed these line of rugs for the Danish company Carl Hansen & Søn. In an interview with Elle Decor, she tells how the briefing with Knud Erik Hansen (Carl Hansen’s CEO) went. In fact, it was not much of a briefing, but actually a conversation. “We tried to find a common language of expression, to represent both our worlds in a way that could bring all the elements together as a whole.”

She did a wonderful job according to me, by listening in to the specific character of this company and the main material they work with: wood. She took her inspiration out of the structure of wood, its lines and the design of nature itself. The result is really striking! Unlike her other rugs, the design of Woodlines is not so much extravert, but rather introvert, breathing a wonderful tranquility.

In the same interview with Elle Decor she says: “[T]he design had to be simple, elegant, enhancing the furniture it had to converse with”. The last words are the most important, according to me. She deliberately puts her design at the service of the surrounding furniture, from Hans Wegner or Ole Wanscher for example. This makes it typical for the Danish design philosophy. The design of Woodlines, which is made of hand-knotted wool, doesn’t  draw attention to itself. It helps to create an atmosphere of balance and tranquility. It comes in three different formats: 80 x 220 cm | 170 x 240 cm | 200 x 300 cm and in five different colour combinations.

 

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Photography: Carl Hansen & Søn

Woodlines: I really admire it!

© Text: Qualitative Design

Kjærholm Folding Stool: Propelled into the Future

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The designs of Poul Kjærholm are hardly in need of further introduction. They transcend the trends and vicissitudes of fashion by speaking a minimalistic design language. Clear, honest lines. Noble materials. Quality where-ever you look. This is Danish Modern at its very best.

Take this PK 91 Folding Stool for example. It very clearly bears Kjærholm’s signature. The preference for steel and leather as materials to work with is an example of this. The deliberate renouncing of all ornamentation is another. Here speaks a confident design, not unlike Arne Jacobsen’s, which is positively looking for the future in the present.

Underneath however one should not underestimate Kjærholm’s tribute to the tradition. Although he prefered steel over wood, which was unlike the mainstream Danish tradition at the time, Kjærholm knew his classics. In fact, it is not exaggerated to say that Kjærholm’s PK 91 is a translation in steel of the wooden Folding Stool of his teacher Kaare Klint.

This does not in the least distract from Kjærholm’s genius. On the contrary, it underlines that true genius consists out of variations on a theme. The story of Danish Modern furniture can be seen as a set of such variations. Kjærholm’s variation in steel is one of the most beautiful!

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Photograph for Adam Edelsberg by Scott Kingsley.
Photograph for Adam Edelsberg by Scott Kingsley.

© Text: Qualitative Design

Swedese Libri: Stairway to Storage

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Belgian designer Michael Bihain designed this shelving unit in 2008 for Swedese, well known for their production of Ynge Ekström’s chairs.  Libri, as the bookcase is named, was awarded at the Stockholm Furniture Fair of  that same year.  Look at it! Isn’t it an excellent example of minimalistic, simple but also very elegant design? Its ingenuity lies in the seeming change in depth of the ascending shelves. But in reality this effect is brought about by the sloping or shelving (hence the name) side of this bookcase.

Libri’s functionality is another strength. It can be used in different ways: standing alone or in pair(s) against a wall, standing backwards against each other, or standing in a row, creating more depth and being able to function as a room divider. Recently (in 2016), the Libri family was expanded with two lower models (with 2 or 3 shelves). The Libri family is available in natural oak or white- or black stained ash veneer and comes with adjustable legs.

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© Text: Qualitative Design

B&O Beolit 12 / 15: Magical Box

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Cecilie Manz is a relatively young Danish designer, but she has achieved a lot. At this blog I wrote about her Micado table. Today, I want to highlight another very impressive design of her. When Bang & Olufsen called her for a new design, the first thing she did ‘was to make sure that they called the right person’. This short quote from an interview underlines her modesty. However, she is determined in her designs. “With every new object I start from scratch”, she says. “I look at how we can make it function perfectly, but also how we can give it its own character”.

That’s what she did with the project for B&O. She decided not to place the docking station on top, as is usual, but to provide a ‘tray’ solution instead. She rounded the corners, for that way they don’t hurt you while walking with it. It’s a portable speaker after all, for I-pods, I-phones, and the like. The design suits the hightech designs of the products of Apple and other companies very well. Inside, the Beolit offers the revolutionary  B&O technology, with amazing performance for such a small box. It was introduced in 2012 as the Beolit 12 and upgraded in 2015 as the Beolit 15.

A beautiful detail is the leather strap, meant as the handle to carry it with you. I love it very much. In short, it is a magical box, most of all thanks to the beautiful design of Cecilie Manz.

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© Text: Qualitative Design

 

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