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Borge Westergaard Mogensen - Danish Furniture Design

Børge Mogensen was born in 1914 in Aalborg in Northern Jutland (Jylland). Mogensen started his career as a cabinetmaker in 1934 in Aalborg. When he got older he spent much of his time in this northern region of Jutland (the Limfjord region).

In 1936 he started his training at the Copenhagen School of Arts and Crafts in Copenhagen (København) under great Danish architect and professor; Kaare Klint.  He finally entered the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen from where he graduated as a fully licensed architect in 1941.
During his years at the Copenhagen School of Arts and Crafts the young Børge Mogensen developed a close partnership with the great Kaare Klint. Later on Mogensen would go on to become Klint’s teaching assistant at the Royal Academy of fine Arts in Copenhagen. Yet while he was still a student at the Copenhagen School of Arts and Crafts Mogensen studied with another famous Danish designer, Hans Jørgen Wegner. They both stood out from the other big Danish designers Ole Wanscher, Kaare Klint and Mogens Koch in several respects. Firstly they stood out because they both came from small towns in the province while the other big designers all came from Copenhagen.

Secondly, they were the first two Danish furniture designers to propel themselves away from being mere artists to actually being able to live off the profits from the sales of their designs. 

In 1942 he became he became head of design at FDB (the Danish co-op). Here he objective was to try and create furniture that could live up to the average family’s practical needs, at the lowest prices possible. It is for this reason that Mogensen’s production of furniture has been important to Danes of all economic fortunes. He went on to establish his own design company in 1950.

Functional is the word which best describes Børge Mogensen’s designs. The majority of his furniture was designed with industrial production in mind, and it is characterized by strong and simple lines. His true genius can be found in his almost scientific approach to the functionality of a piece of furniture.

Some of his most famous pieces include “The Shaker table and dining chair” which was designed in 1947 for the Fredericia Chairs Factory A / S, and “The Spanish Chair” (Den Spanske Stol) designed in 1958 which was also for the Fredericia Chairs Factory A / S.

Børge Mogensen was the first designer who carried good craftsmanship into the industrial world, and furniture shops throughout Denmark. He designed furniture and inventory for many of the big industrial companies in Denmark. The mass production of furniture for sale in furniture stores is his main contribution to Danish furniture art history.

Like Kaare Klint, Børge Mogensen felt that old furniture types which had proved their usefulness and durability for centuries could be improved and simplified. English Windsor chairs, stick chairs, Swedish and American Shaker chairs formed the models for much of the furniture he produced with FDB. His designs are rarely without role models from whom he attempted to improve on their original design. Also like Klint, Mogensen used a very ‘scientific’ approach to his designs, and strived to build furniture which was harmonious with human bodies of all sizes.

As an architect and designer Mogensen was far more likely to compromise his design visions than Klint ever was. The same holds true when Mogensen is compared with the strong-willed perfectionists Arne Jacobsen and Poul Kjærholm.     

Mogensen received the Eckersberg Medal (Eckersberg Medaillen) in 1950, and the CF Hansen Medal in 1972. One of his close friends, architect Arne Karlsen, wrote that "his work stands as a monolith of modern Danish furniture art, a centre of calm and steadfast in a fragmented and rootless time”.

Børge Mogensen passed away in 1972 in Gentofte near Copenhagen (København). 

LastUpdate: 2015-04-18 17:22:26