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  • In early May of 1947, while walking down the streets of Copenhagen one might have seen a poster with the headline “Tidens MØbler,” announcing an upcoming furniture exposition and competition in celebration of the city’s Furniture Industry Association’s 40th anniversary.  Below this text was an illustration of a young woman in a wedding gown sitting at her vanity. The vanity that the woman sits at appears to be a table with an extendable mirror and leaves as well as drawers beneath and colorful compartments that are presumably hidden when the leaves close. The image of the woman at her vanity was a visual representation of the play-on-words present in the headline: MØ, meaning maid, and møbler, meaning furniture. 

     

    Left: Poster by Arne Jungermann announcing the “Tidens Møbler” (Furniture of the Time) exhibition, 1947. Right: Finn Juhl’s display at the “Tidens Møbler” (Furniture of the Time) exhibition, which included the present model sofa.
    Left: Poster by Arne Ungermann announcing the “Tidens Møbler” (Furniture of the Time) exhibition, 1947. Right: Finn Juhl’s display at the “Tidens Møbler” (Furniture of the Time) exhibition, which included the present model sofa.

    This poster advertised the “Tidens Møbler” (Furniture of the Time) exhibition that ran from May 9-18, 1947 at the K.B. Hallen in Copenhagen. The premise of the exhibition was to present architect-designed furniture meant for small living quarters and modest budgets. Following World War II, as a prosperous welfare state, Denmark had to deal with increased populations within urban centers and growing families. Concurrently, there was high demand for modern Danish furniture within every income bracket. At the time, the country was considering granting loans to newlyweds in which coupons could be used for certain furniture and household appliances. It was in this context that many of Denmark’s furniture designers, manufacturers and retailers came together for this exhibition.


    Submissions to the competition fit within two categories: the first was for single pieces of furniture to be judged on their own, and the second was for entire groups of furnishings that were made especially for certain archetypical living arrangements, including a bachelor’s apartment, a single woman’s apartment, a two-room apartment for a couple with two children, and a two-and-a-half room apartment for a couple with two children and a teenage son. Many of the pieces shown were multifunctional and compact in size, similar to the vanity shown in the exhibition poster.

     

    The present sofa placed within the office at Finn Juhl’s house. Photo credit: Finn Juhl’s House, Ordrupgaard, Denmark and Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark.
    The present sofa placed within the living room at Finn Juhl’s house. Photo credit: Finn Juhl’s House, Ordrupgaard, Denmark and Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark.

    Finn Juhl presented a proposition for a bachelor’s apartment, which won an award at the exhibition and included the present sofa model. Though the winning designs were meant to go into production, it is highly unlikely that Berg & Nielsen, the small furniture manufacturer in Aarhus that produced the sofa, ever entered large-scale production, as only three examples of the sofa are known to exist.
    "One shouldn’t despair over the fact that some of the developments one has hoped for were never produced but only became a beginning. Perhaps they will be revived some day in the future if necessary or reasonable, when the time is ripe." —Finn Juhl

     

    The compact design clearly references several of Juhl’s other sofas from the 1940s. Typical of many of his seating designs, the piece features four graceful tapered wooden legs supporting a sinuous frame with arms extended as if to cradle its sitters. The arms of this sofa extend out straight rather than curve downward as seen in many related examples. Finn Juhl used a similar sofa to furnish his own living room, clearly an indication that the design was important to him. The present sofa is significant not only for its rarity and particular historical context, but also for the way in which the form fits within Juhl’s impressive body of work.

    • Condition Report

    • Description

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    • Provenance

      Private collection, Denmark

    • Literature

      Frances van Hall, "Modern Show in Copenhagen," Retailing Home Furnishings, June 12, 1947, n.p. for a discussion of the exhibition
      Bent Salicath, "Tidens Møbler: En konkurrence, en udstilling og en status," Nyt tidsskrift for kunstindustri, July 1947, pp. 109-21 for a discussion of the exhibition
      "Danske Møbler," Møbelhandleren, no. 2, 1948, title page, p. 21

64

Rare sofa, designed for a "Bachelor's Apartment" for the "Tidens Møbler 1947" exhibition, Copenhagen

circa 1947
Beech, fabric upholstery.
42 3/8 x 52 x 27 1/2 in. (107.6 x 132.1 x 69.9 cm)
Produced by Berg & Nielsen, Aarhus, Denmark.

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$12,000 - 18,000 

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Design

New York Auction 7 December 2021