Celebrating Danish Design

Celebrating Danish Design

Five Danish Designers Not to Be Missed

Danish design reached new heights during the twentieth century. The Danish Modern movement exploded onto the scene from the 1920s and reached its apex from the 1940s to the 1960s, launching numerous important designers to international acclaim. Designers were creating sleek and functional pieces of furniture that responded to the needs and aesthetics of contemporary lifestyle, and fitted perfectly with the new international modernist architectural movement of the post war years.

It comes as no surprise that these important designers and their work remain so coveted today, which was reflected in the last edition of Modern Made when we celebrated the Danish Movement with a collection of works from the exhibition Denmark: Design, an exhibition that celebrated 150 years of official relations between Denmark and Japan that travelled to 12 locations between 2016 and 2021. The sale produced some exceptional results and reflected its continuing appeal to a wide international market.

We are welcoming works by the modern masters of the Scandinavian movement for the next edition in October 2022, to join examples by Finn Juhl, Hans Wegner, Marta Maas-Fjetterstrom, Verner Panton and Georg Jensen already consigned for our flagship London auction, and we have picked five Danish masters whose work still inspire us today and is not to be missed:



1. HANS WEGNER (1914- 2007)


HANS WEGNER (DANISH 1914-2007) | SWIVEL CHAIR | Sold for £15,000*


In 1949, Interiors magazine described a chair by Hans Wegner as the “most beautiful chair in the world”. Being the very first coverage by American media of Danish modern design, it is no wonder that Wegner went on to be known as the “King of Chairs” for his prolific output of around 500 different chair design. Furniture design had always been a fundamental aspect of Wegner’s life, from his early beginnings in the craft with an apprenticeship at the age of fourteen under the master cabinetmaker H. F. Stahlberg. He made his very first chair the following year. Before achieving international acclaim in the late 1940s, Wegner worked for Arne Jacobsen and Erik Møller, designing furniture for their project to design the Aarhus City Hall. He continued to work for Jacobsen until 1943 when Wegner opened his own independent studio.

Most notably, he collaborated with the master cabinetmaker Johannes Hansen from the early 1940s, and the company Salesco A/S was created in 1951 to exclusively promote and produce Wegner’s work both in Denmark and abroad. Wegner’s work, which has become celebrated for its fine craftsmanship with exceptionally high-quality woodwork, became so greatly appreciated that two of his iconic ‘Round’ chairs were used for the first televised U. S. presidential debate between Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy in 1960, demonstrating their quality and popularity. Furniture by Wegner pays homage to his respect for his craft and for his materials: through pushing wood to its extremes and his capacity to produce modern pieces while adhering to traditional techniques demonstrate his lifelong passion for his profession.



2. FINN JUHL (1912- 1989)


FINN JUHL (DANISH 1912-1989) FOR NIELS VODDER | ARMCHAIR, DESIGNED 1946 | Sold for £6,000*

FINN JUHL (DANISH 1912-1989) FOR NIELS VODDER | ARMCHAIR, DESIGNED 1946 | Sold for £6,000*


Inspired primarily by the artist Jean Arp, the organic and natural forms visible in Finn Juhl’s work demonstrates this artistic influence and the importance of art in his creations that endured throughout his entire career. Jean Arp’s simplistic and organic sculptures instantly recall Juhl’s furniture and their celebrated ‘floating’ element that highlights the natural properties of his materials through the way in which he combined and constructed the supportive elements of his furniture.

Art had been of upmost importance to Juhl from a young age. Despite a desire to become an art historian, his father convinced him to become an architect, which he began to study for in 1930. Following his graduation, Juhl worked at Vilhelm Lauritzen’s leading architectural firm for ten years until he left to open his own design practice in 1945. It was not long after this that he achieved international acclaim and brought modern Danish design to north America. In 1948, he was written about in Interiors magazine by Edgar Kaufmann Junior, the head of the Department for Industrial Design at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. This led to a series of important exhibitions and commissions, including designing the Trusteeship Council Chamber in the headquarters of the United Nations in New York in 1951-52, winning three gold medals at the Milan Triennial in 1957, and winning the A. I. D. prize for design in Chicago in 1964. Finn Juhl’s trademark focus on sculptural, natural shapes remain popular in many interiors in public and private settings internationally.



3. BØRGE MOGENSEN (1914- 1972)




Born in the Danish city of Aalborg in 1914, Børge Mogensen would go on to become one of the most important forces in Danish design of the twentieth century and pivotal in the dissemination of the concept of Danish Modern throughout the world. Mogensen began his engagement with furniture at the age of twenty as a cabinetmaker, and then two years later entered the Danish School of Arts and Crafts in 1936 to study furniture design and improve his craft. Following this, he worked for various design studios including with the important maker Kaare Klint where Mogensen learned the importance of functionality and developed an eye for simple and streamlined aesthetics, began researching how people engage with objects to gain a fuller understanding of the importance of furniture designed for use.

The importance that Mogensen placed on functionality and simplicity resulted in the production of numerous incredibly modern pieces of furniture, which together with his skill as a traditional craftsman, allowed him to produce distinctly functional and sleek objects that were built for contemporary living. In 1959 he opened his own studio where he continued to produce these works to great acclaim, receiving both the C. F. Hansen Medal and the Honorary Royal Designer for Industry distinction in 1972.



4. ARNE JACOBSEN (1902- 1971)




Furniture designed by Arne Jacobsen is instantly recognisable for its sleek, simplistic lines constructed with expert craftmanship. Despite initial aspirations to become a painter, Jacobsen opted for architecture as a career following the persuasion of his mother. He entered the Architecture School at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in his hometown of Copenhagen in 1924 at the age of twenty-two. It only took Jacobsen a year to win his first award: a silver medal at the Paris Art Deco fair for chair design – signalling the prosperity and success that would come to him in the future.

In 1930 he set up his own office where he was awarded with numerous important large-scale commissions such as the seaside resort complex in Klampenborg, the Bellavista residential development, and the Århus city hall. While these projects were primarily architectural, Jacobsen remains celebrated today for his furniture design. Beginning in 1934 many of his important designs were developed in collaboration with the celebrated furniture manufacturer Fritz Hansen. Jacobsen was interested in creating visual harmony in his furniture – simplistic and well-proportioned designs that worked for the modern household, often taking the work of Charles and Ray Eames as his inspiration.



5. AXEL SALTO (1889- 1961)


AXEL SALTO (DANISH 1889-1961) FOR ROYAL COPENHAGEN | VASE | Sold for £1,500*


Axel Salto is considered as one of the most important Danish artists of the twentieth century. While predominantly a ceramicist, Salto’s work transcended materials and also included illustrations, textiles, jewellery, and graphic design. Born in Copenhagen in 1889, Salto began his artistic career as an artist in 1911 and met important figures such as Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse on a trip to Paris in 1916 that had lasting effects on his practise. From the 1920s, his career as a ceramicist really took off and he exhibited at the 1925 Exposition Universelle in Paris.

Salto’s ceramics often employ organic forms and a particularly rich glaze, inspired by nature and characterised by ornamental simplification. From the 1930s, having established his signature style that placed the importance upon natural form, he worked primarily with the Royal Porcelain factory in his hometown of Copenhagen. He achieved great acclaim for these pieces and counted numerous accolades including the Eckerberg Medal in 1938, winning the Grand Prix at the Milan Triennial in 1951, and receiving the Prince Eugen Medal in 1959.





Auction Information


MODERN MADE: Modern & Post-War Art, Design & Studio Ceramics

Friday 28th October 2022

Live Online | Mall Galleries, London


Consignments invited until Thursday 01 September 2022.


Consign Now ⇒



Modern & Post-War Design


Lyon & Turnbull are a leading auction house in Modern, Post War and Contemporary Design, holding specialist live and online Design auctions in London and Edinburgh that are known for their international reach and strong results.

20th Century Design is a buoyant and exciting area of the market. With a wealth of experience, our Modern Design team offer expertise encompassing a range of media including ceramics, furniture, sculpture, lighting and textiles, holding auctions offering exceptional and important design from the last 100 years.

Our sales cover all the major movements from Pre-War French and British Modernism and Art Deco, to works from the Mid-Century and Post-War, including Italian and Nordic Design, European and American Modernism, Studio Craft through to Contemporary Design, Glass and Studio & Contemporary Ceramics.


Learn More ⇒





Philip Smith



0207 930 9115





Recent Articles