Finn Juhl


Finn Juhl (1912-89) was a Danish furniture designer and architect educated at the School of Architecture at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, where he studied under architect Kay Fisker (1893-1965) between 1930-34. After graduating Juhl worked for ten years at Vilhelm Lauritzen’s (1894-1922) architectural company, where he had also appren-ticed as a student. In close collaboration with Viggo Boesen (1907-85), Juhl was responsible for much of the interior design made to the national Danish broadcaster Danmarks Radio’s newly built Radio Building, which was one of Lauritzen’s firm’s most high-profile assignments during those years. 

Finn Juhl gave a soft edge to the lines of wooden modernist chairs, favouring organic shapes, which often took the wood to the limits of what was possible. He generally used teak and other dark woods, unlike many of the other proponents of the Danish Modern movement who often used oak in their designs. Juhl was influ-enced by the abstract sculptor Jean Arp, an influence, which is seen already in his early Pelican chair. Also influenced by tribal art, Juhl exhibited the Chieftain chair with photos of weapons from anthropological studies. 

Juhl’s debut was made in 1937 when he commenced a collaboration with cabinet-maker Niels Vodder (b. 1918), which continued until 1959. Juhl and Vodder exhibited at the Cabinetmakers' Guild Exhibitions for many years and because the Guild-Shows emphasized the work of the artisan over the burgeoning industry of mass production, Juhl’s early chairs were originally produced in small numbers.

In 1945 Juhl left Vilhelm Lauritzen's company and set up his own design practice at the centre of Copenhagen, specializing in interior and furniture design. Shortly after opening his own office, he received several commissions to do interior design at some of the premier addresses in Copenhagen

In 1948 Edgar Kaufmann Jr. (1910-89), the leader of the Department for Industrial Design at Merchandise Mart in New York, toured Scandinavia where he became impressed by Juhl's work. Kaufmann Jr. presented Juhl’s work in a large article in the Interiors magazine, which led him to participate in the Good Design exhibition in Chicago in 1951. In connection with the show Juhl was quoted in the magazine for stating that "One cannot create happiness with beautiful objects, but one can spoil quite a lot of happiness with bad ones". In the 1950s Finn Juhl won a total of five gold medals at the Milan Triennale, which further added to his international reputation.