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Finn Juhl (1912-1989)

Finn Juhl was a Danish architect and furniture designer. Juhl was born in 1912 in Frederiksberg which is a section of Copenhagen (København). He completed his education at St. Jørgens High School in 1930. Immediately after he completed his High School education he accepted to the famous Architectural School in Copenhagen, ‘The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen.

Times were tough for architects when Juhl graduated from the Academy in 1934. There was a global construction crisis because of the Depression. However, Juhl was fortunate enough to receive employment at Vilhelm Lauritzen’s architectural studio.

In 1937 he married the dentist Inge-Marie Skaarup, and in 1942 they built a new house together in Ordrup, which is a wealthy section of Copenhagen. Things started to go very well for Juhl in the early 1940’s, and it was during this period that he created some of his most recognizable pieces. In 1940 he released his “Pelican Chair” (Pelikanstolen) and in 1941 he released his “Poet Sofa” (Poetsofaen).
Finn Juhl was a pioneer in furniture design in particular, but he was also a valued architect with a sense of interaction between furniture and spaces. Juhl was the first Danish furniture designer to be recognized internationally with his early 1940’s chair designs.

Finn Juhl was only ever trained as an architect. He taught himself the art of furniture design. Juhl was always very quick to point out the fact that he was a self-taught furniture designer. There is no doubt that Juhl was very proud of this achievement considering that he received most of his acclaim for his furniture designs.

In 1945 he opened up his own office, and started to become well known for his unusual sculptural designs. Juhl and the master cabinetmaker, Niels Vodder went on to form a partnership, and the pair frequently caused a stir at the annual Cabinetmaker’s Guild Furniture Exhibitions with their radical designs.

Finn Juhl was not like the other big Danish designers of the time. He was much more interested in form than function. Not only that, but he was not like the other designers of his time who believed that designs should be based on tried and tested furniture designs from the past. Juhl preferred to create a completely new form which was aesthetically pleasing and had some functional qualities. Designers from the Kaare Klint school of thought (Borge Mogensen, Mogens Koch) considered Juhl to be a bit of a rogue because of his clear break with established traditions in Danish design.

As a designer he helped revolutionize Danish design. In the 1940’s he created a series of furniture which came to redefine Denmark as a pioneer in the design front. In the 1950’s he went on to made a big breakthrough in the U.S. with an interior decoration project at the Trusteeship Council Chamber at the UN headquarters in New York.

Finn Juhl, Arne Jacobsen and Poul Kjærholm opened the world’s eyes to Danish design, and it was a direct result of their designs and achievements the term "Danish Modern" was coined. Their designs created the foundation of what turned into a great "export boom" of Danish designs which started in the 1960’s and continues to this day.

Juhl has received great international and national recognition for his furniture design. He has been called ‘the father of the Danish teak style’, because he developed many new methods to treat and build with teak. Juhl earned many national and international awards for his designs, and many of them are still being produced today. The wavy organic shapes were ground-breaking in Danish design, and something totally unique internationally. 

One of Finn Juhl’s most recognisable chairs is the “Chieftain Chair” which was designed in 1949. The chair has a beautiful timeless design and it appears as modern today as it did when it was released of 60 years ago. The same can be said of his “45-Chair” which was released in 1945.
Finn Juhl passed away in Ordrup in 1989.

LastUpdate: 2016-07-23 09:05:27