FINN JUHL: A Danish Modern Design Jewel

Finn Juhl's House - Photo by Cereal Magazine
Picture of the Danish architect and furniture designer Finn Juhl – Photo by

Finn Juhl was a renowned and innovative designer as well as a successful, portrait, interior and industrial designer of repute. This great man was incomparable when it comes to furniture design and other home interior decorations. He was a leading furniture industrial designer, despite the fact that architecture was his area of specialisation.

When talking of people who have contributed immensely towards the development of Danish design and its modern idea, his name was one of the foremost personalities. The purpose of his furniture design was to portray Denmark as ground-breaking in the area of furniture and artistic design.

From around 1930 to the end of the 1960s, Finn Juhl was part of the Danish Modern movements in association with other big names who took the Danish modern design to a greater height than it is, even till date. As a matter of fact, Danish Modern is the home of innovative ground for Danish architecture and design up till today.

The Biography of Finn Juhl

30 January 1912 marked the day Finn Juhl was born to the man called Johannes Juhl in Copenhagen, Denmark. His father was a disciplinarian textile merchant. Unfortunately, Juhl doesn’t know his mother because she passed away three days after giving birth to Juhl. This man studied architecture at a reputable academy of Fine Arts from 1930 to 1934, where he was supervised and tutored by Kay Fisher, a foremost architect and lecturer.

Originally, Finn Juhl aspired to study art history at the university, but his father was against his decision. He was rather advised to register onto the Architecture program which was regarded as more lucrative during that time. For this reason, he started going to the National Gallery of Denmark every week to see things for himself at the age of fifteen.

Furniture and Other Product Design

Finn Juhl 45 Chair (FJ45 Chair) – Photo by Danish Design Store

Juhl visited the Stockholm Show when he was 18 years old. This was where he saw wonderful and purposeful buildings that inspired him. This was the first wide-ranging expression that actually confirmed the influx of innovation in Scandinavia. The intention of the functionalists was to eradicate the onerous historical styles and the depiction of the category they symbolised. This was what made Finn Juhl experience the belief of the time and the fight between the old and the latest showed in architecture.

Finn Juhl worked with an architect who was also a teacher at the Academy of Fine Arts during the 1934 summer. As at that time, he was still a student. The tradition then was that certain experienced students be selected by their various advisors to work for them at their own studios.

The studio offered extremely applauded projects at the time Finn Juhl was in the service of his master. Juhl was in charge of the interior design of the Radio House. With the contribution and effort of Juhl, the Radio House became one of the best buildings at the moment.

Finn Juhl became the closest associate of Vilhelm Lauritzen even though he stopped working at the studio after 14 years. Despite the fact that he was not formally trained to be an architect, this was of slight effect to him when he turned out to be a member of the Architects Association of Denmark in the year 1942.

On the 15th of July 1937, Finn Juhl got married. This was the year he started displaying his furniture at various annual manufacturers’ fair and shows. In this context, Juhl instigated a cordial relationship with a cabinetmaker who handcrafted his furniture for a period of more than 20 years.

The Golden Years of Finn Juhl – 1940s

By the 1940s, Finn Juhl was already at the peak of his career and it was also during these periods that he crafted his best iconic furniture, including the FJ45 chair. This was perhaps the chair that really proved that Juhl was an exceptional designer.

Some Great Projects Credited to Finn Juhl

Modern Furniture Projects

Pelican Chair by Finn Juhl – Photo by Danish Design Store

Exhibitions were an essential venue for all the young designers who aimed at promoting modern Danish design. These furniture projects were exceedingly contentious and the first project of Juhl was greatly criticised. Despite the initial criticism, the Pelican chair designed in 1939 and first made in 1940 was seen ground-breaking and artistic in nature. All through the 1940s, his work started influencing the style of different homes overseas.


Interior Design

The work of Finn Juhl included different assignment in the area of interior design. He received a lot of commissions to carry out interior design at a number of the premier addresses in Copenhagen, not too long after commissioning his own office.

Here are some of the selected interior projects of this great architect and portrait.

Interior 52 at the Nordenfjeldske Kunstindustrimuseum (National Museum of Decorative Arts and Design), Trondheim, Norway, 1952 – Photo by Scandinavian Collectors

* FD152 also known as the Bwana chair of 1962

* The 1957 Denmark stand

* Kongens Nytory Svend Schaumann flourist shop of 1948

* In 1952, he designed a room with his personal furniture at the Nordenfjeldske Museum of Applied Art

* 1951 to 1952 – The construction of Trusteeship Council Chamber, United Nations Headquarters in New York.

* 1960 to 1961 – This was when the Arts of Denmark exhibition was relocated to museums Los Angeles and Washington D. C., Chicago.

Furniture Projects

* 1941 – The Poet sofa or FJ41

* 1940 – Pelican chair

* 1948 – FJ48 chair

* 1944 – NV44 chair

Poet Sofa by Finn Juhl – Photo by Danish Design Store

* 1945- NV45 chair

* 1946 – FJ46 chair

* 1946- BO64 chair

* 1946 – BO59 or Westermann’s Fireside chair

* 1948 – FJ48 chair

* 1949 – Egyptian chair

* 1949 – FJ49A also called Chieftain chair

* 1946 – Judas table

* 1951 – Baker sofa

* 1952 – BO98 chair

* 1953 – FD137 aka Japan chair

* 1953 – FJ53 chair

* 1953 – BO101 chair

* 1955 – FJ55 chair * 1958 – FD136 chair

* 1962 – BO62 chair

* 1962 – FD152 also known as Bwana chair


Finn Juhl for Niels Vodder at the 1951 Cabinetmaker’s Guild Exhibition – Photo by Wright Auction

* The 1938 11th Cabinetmakers Guild show

* 1950 Contemporary Danish Architecture

* 1950 London Danish Handcraft Guild show

* Chicago Good Design show of 1951

* 1952 Zurich Angewandte Kunst aus Dänemark show

* 8 German cities and Vienna Neue Form aus Dänemark traveling show of 1956 to 1957 * The 1968 two Centuries of Danish Design, Victoria and Albert Museum show

* 1969 Festival of arts and crafts

* 1970 Finn Juhl trade fair Autumn show, Copenhagen

* 1973 Cantu, Italy Finn Juhl show

The Private Life of Finn Juhl

Finn Juhl and Inge-Marie Skaarup, his wife, designed and built their own house at North of Copenhagen. Finn Juhl’s house, as called today, was built from collective resources. Finn Juhl and his wife separated later.

Finn Juhl in the Present Day

Finn Juhl was admired and recognised in Denmark and overseas during his time. His transformed furniture, portrait, interior and industrial designs made him a successful man in the Danish and world history. For example, Finn Juhl’s furniture has witnessed a new beginning across the world. Finn Juhl died on 17th May 1989.