All about Danish Modern Furniture Design
Danish modern is a style of furniture and home design that is associated with mid century modern design and the Bauhaus movement. It is notoriously clean, streamlined, and mod. Let’s explore where this design came from and how to recognize it.
Origins and History of Danish Modern Furniture
As the name suggests, the Danish modern style originated in Denmark. Thought to be pioneered by Kaare Klint in the 1920s, the principles of Bauhuas design inspired the clean lines of the designs. Klint was the head of the architecture school at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts. He taught his students to take an analytical approach to furniture creation and adapt their designs to needs of the modern day. The designs evolved over the decades and, during the postwar era, became more and more utilitarian. Danish modern designers focused on creating designs that were affordable, functional, yet still elegant.
Originally, Danish modern minimalist furniture was handcrafted by the artisans who designed it. During World War II and beyond, when the designers realized the demand for low cost furniture, production switched to mass machine-making, which was more cost effective. WWII also created a scarcity of some materials. This meant that many of the pieces produced during the postwar era were made out of plywood.
Danish modern furniture was wildly popular in America beginning in the 1950’s and lasting through the mid 1960’s. Manufacturers in America obtained licences to manufacture these pieces nationally, and sales soared. However, in the later 1960’s, tastes shifted to prefer molded plastic and wood-grained Formica materials, which were also cheaper to produce.
Notable Contributors to Danish Modern Design
Over the years, there were many contributors to the evolution of Danish modern design. Furthermore, when licenses were given to other countries to produce the furniture there, the styles changed a bit. However, there are a few notable names who are associated with making the style what it is.
After the style’s pioneer, Kaare Klint, came Poul Henningsen. Henningsen was an architect whose work embodied functionalism. His design contribution to the movement was not in furniture, but in lighting. His “PH Lamp” is now iconic and easily recognizable. Many lamps and lighting fixtures have gone on to be designed based on his style.
Arne Jacobsen was a graduate of the Royal Danish Academy of the Arts in the 1920’s. He was a masterful architect and furniture designer. A few of his furniture designs have become wildly popular and enduringly recognizable. Pieces like his “Egg Chair”, the “Swan”, and the “Series 7 Chair” have become nearly synonymous with retro, mid-century modern design.
Verner Panton is another well known name in Danish modern design. He briefly worked with Arne Jacobsen upon his graduation from the Royal Academy. He is known for his bold, colorful, and imaginative collections of furniture lamps and textiles. His use of bright colors and playful shapes is well known. He is perhaps most well known for the “Panton Chair”, the first one-piece molded plastic chair in the world. This piece was the beginning of the transition into a new era of design.
Danish modern design is beautiful and absolutely iconic. While these are just a few of the big names associated with the style, there were so many designers who contributed so much to the movement.
Many of the designs we see in furniture, lighting, and homewares today borrow inspiration in some way from Danish modern design. It was iconic when it began and it is still iconic to this day. Straight out of the movement itself, browse some of our favorite Verner Panton textiles below: