Danish Modern for the twenty-first century
Danish furniture manufacturer Onecollection have been working hard to reissue the original Finn Juhl chairs and develop new chairs and tables for the newly renovated Trusteeship Council Chamber at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.
When the United Nations’ Headquarters were built more than 60 years ago, the Danish nation donated the design and furnishings for The Trusteeship Council Chamber. It was the young architect Finn Juhl who was tasked with the prestigious challenge, which is why the chamber is also known as The Finn Juhl Chamber. He created a historic design that came to have international consequences for Denmark as a design nation. His style became known as Danish Modern.
In connection with the current renovation to the U.N. complex, Denmark again chose to make a donation to the U.N. This time, the money was earmarked for ensuring that the Finn Juhl Chamber was brought back to its original condition as well as for introducing modern Danish design on this prestigious global stage. Two hundred and sixty of Finn Juhl’s original delegate chairs, the FJ51 from 1951, have been specially re-issued for the Chamber. Made in American walnut and with exactly the same shade of blue woollen upholstery as originally chosen by Finn Juhl according to his 60-year-old material card.
In addition to this there was a another challenge to design a new chair that would fit seamlessly with the interiors designed in 1951. It is the young design team of architect Thomas Sigsgaard and designer Kasper Salto who grasped the spirit of the Chamber and elegantly transposed Finn Juhl’s legacy into the 21st century with their sculpture of a moulded shell chair.
“People ask us what is especially Danish about this chair. Apart from the light Nordic colour and our love of using wood, we also think it has to do with our approach: We put a lot of effort into assembling all possible influences of the assignment before giving it shape. By doing so, we had a good chance of making something useful and relevant. Besides that, there is always a reason for what we do, and that often helps us in our discussions with the various teams we work with. For instance, we designed the secretaries’ chairs with armrests. At first the UN was hesitant to allocate chairs with armrests to employees with the status of secretary, but because we presented them with our intentions, we came to an agreement”. Designers Kasper Salto & Thomas Sigsgaard
Onecollection are now producing the pieces for the Chamber, they comment;
“It has been enormously challenging but also a lot of fun to be part of the process of creating Salto & Sigsgaards furniture for the Chamber. The fact that everything has gone so smoothly is almost unreal! Together with the designers we have constantly had to balance on the edge of what is technically possible and collect expertise from all corners of the globe. At the same time we have worked in a very small time frame where nothing was allowed to go wrong. Today, however, we feel that we have created something beautiful and groundbreaking in tandem with the designers. We hope this can inject new interest into Danish design from an international perspective. What a shame Finn Juhl himself couldn’t experience this”. Director Hans Henrik Sørensen, Onecollection