b. Frederiksberg, Denmark, 1912
The great prestige that Danish furniture enjoyed in the mid-century was due in no small part to the work of a quiet architect and designer named Finn Juhl, one of the generation’s greatest and most original furniture designers. Juhl studied at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts School of Architecture under architect Kay Fisker, between 1930-34. After graduation, Juhl worked for ten years with architect Vilhelm Lauritzen, where he had also apprenticed as a student. During his employment there, Juhl participated in the interior decoration of the Radio House, which was the start of a long series of interior design projects, including the now-famous interior design of the Trusteeship Council Chamber inside the UN building in New York City.
Juhl’s furniture design debut was in 1937 when he commenced a long lasting collaboration with cabinetmaker Niels Vodder. Juhl and Vodder exhibited at the Cabinetmakers' Guild Exhibitions for many years and in 1945 Juhl left Vilhelm Lauritzen to set up his own studio in the centre of Copenhagen, specializing in interior and furniture design. Shortly after, he received several commissions to do interior design at some of the most prestigious addresses in Copenhagen.
Finn Juhl, like Kaare Klint and his students, wished to create usable furniture; but he did not approve of Klint's mathematical, geometric and retrospective approach to furniture design. On the contrary, Juhl believed that furniture should be created with a starting point in contemporary organic art with its soft, sweeping shapes and was inspired by abstract sculptors like Henry Moore and Jean Arp. For Juhl and his mid century modernist contemporaries, ornament and formality were less important than the real-life functionality of objects and spaces. To be modern was to be practical, understandable, and well made.