Finn Juhl's Trusteeship Chamber - United Nations Building, New York

Housed in the UN Headquarters in New York , the Trusteeship Council Chamber, is one of the most frequently used meeting facilities in the UN compound. The chamber was designed by Finn Juhl in 1950-52, and the government of Denmark contributed a fund of approximately £20,000 towards its construction. The room originally featured warm-hued wood and furniture designs by Finn Juhl, including the FJ51 chair. The woods, carpets, curtains and lighting fixtures were sent from Denmark. The chamber reflected the 1950s design ethos with emphasis on craftsmanship and organic form. There was also a statue, carved out of teak wood by Mr. Henrik Starcke, a Danish sculptor, which symbolized Mankind and Hope and can be seen centre left in the picture below:

Since 1952, the chamber has seen a series of alterations in 1964 and 1977. In December 2010, the Danish Arts Foundation Committee for Crafts and Design invited entries for a competition to provide new Danish design furniture for this space. The winning entries would be implemented as part of a $3 million renovation the Trusteeship Council Chamber of the United Nations headquarters in Manhattan. The competition was inspired by the fact the UN complex was scheduled to undergo a comprehensive programme of restoration and modernisation, bringing it back to its original form and appearance, but using materials and techniques that can meet the challenges of the 21st century. Besides organising this competition, Denmark has also undertaken to have the chamber's original sunken floor restored, to produce 260 new copies of the original Finn Juhl chair, FJ51, as well as a new curtain produced in line with Finn Juhl's original design. (As its contribution to the restoration, the UN will provide the wall panelling, carpeting, ceiling, lamps, decorations and up-to-date technical equipment.) The successful proposal was submitted by the industrial designers Kasper Salto and Thomas Sigsgaard of Salto & Sigsgaard. The judging panel felt their designs were qualified, modern and forward-thinking in style, with an international touch. At the same time, their proposal succeeds in presenting an original new interpretation of Danish design. In the opinion of the judges, when fully developed this project will bring to the Chamber new qualities which will underpin Finn Juhl's original concept and, at the same time, meet the functional requirements laid down by the UN. In lieu of visiting the site—like much of the UN headquarters, the chamber is completely gutted and off-limits to the public—Salto and Sigsgaard picked the brains of two designers, Marianne Riis Carstensen and Bo Koch Clausen, who worked with Juhl on his original 1952 design of the room’s interior. They offered the two young designers invaluable insight into Juhl’s process and his legacy. To do that, the designers evoked the body-contoured silhouettes and muted palettes of Juhl’s midcentury aesthetic while employing stronger construction methods such as 3-D veneer technologies and CNC milling—vast advancements from that era’s technique of merely layering veneer and bent plywood - the elegant two-part seat of their Secretariat chair, for example, was molded with cutting-edge software and machinery, using lasers on the inner surfaces to create the intricate perforations along which the wood was bent About the project, Salto said:

““We had to maintain the overall feeling, the Finn Juhl way of doing it, but of course, we live in 2011 and have so many more materials and technologies at our disposal,” explains Sigsgaard. “We were given the task of respecting the chamber, but taking the design into the twenty-first century.”
The final word about Finn Juhl, of course, belongs to Salto, who states:
In Denmark, we talk a lot about Arne Jacobsen and Poul Henningsen, but Juhl is one of our first [midcentury modern designers], and while he’s not quite the forgotten one, we think he’ll have a revival now because the other guys have had their turn.”
We at Skandium thoroughly concur with this! NOTES Here's a video of the fully restored Chamber. Danish designer Finn Juhl achieved something like the modernist apotheosis of self-subtraction: over a nearly five-decade career, he pioneered and popularized that reflexively modest, sublimely simple style known on these shores as Danish modern. Juhl is broadly credited as the chief exponent of Danish design in America, and over the years—as his elegant credenzas and chairs filled up the homes of mid-century families (and later, of mid-century enthusiasts)—Juhl himself came to be lost behind his work, and behind the scads of imitators who followed him. Kasper Salto has also designed both the Nap chair and Ice for Fritz Hansen. The UN Building was constructed in 1947-52 and designed by Oscar Niemeyer. At the beginning of the 1950s, the UN consisted of 60 member states, in 2006 the number had risen to 192. Approximately 400 meeting are held in the Trusteeship Council Chamber each year and is visited by 400,000 tourists annually. The UN building has featured in many films, including Alfred Hitchcock's North by Northwest. However, although both the interior and exterior is featured, the UN forbade Hitchcock to film inside there, so miniatures, models and fully sized replicas of its interiors were built on the studio's sound stage. Images courtesy of and Google.