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Architect, Interior Designer, and Industrial Designer, Finn Juhl, is known as a leading figure in the creation of Danish Modern design. His furniture designs, with their soft edges and organic shapes, catapulted him to fame both internationally and nationally. His ideas became profoundly revolutionary in Mid-Century modern design.
Born on January 30 in Copenhagen, Juhl had an affinity for art history and wanted to further study the subject. He spent much of his time visiting the National Gallery of Denmark. His father, opposed to his career choice, suggested he study architecture instead. During the 1930’s, Juhl enrolled at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts to study architecture. Shortly before graduating, he worked with architect Vilhelm Lauritzen and designed for him for about ten years.
Juhl debuted at the Cabinetmakers’ Guild exhibitions and worked on models for cabinetmaker, Niels Vodder, which would span a partnership of about 20 years. Although he never formally studied furniture design, he challenged himself with the task. In 1939 he created the Pelikan Chair which was highly criticized but marked a successful path for his career. Most of his chairs can be identified by the unique floating features as the backs and seats appear to float atop the frames.
His collaboration with Viggo Boesen earned him the C.F. Hansen award for young architects. He decided to open his design office in Nyhavn, Copenhagen in 1945. That same year, he designed the Bing & Grøndahl store and Svend Schaumann’s florist’s shop in Copenhagen. Impressed by Juhl’s work, Edgar Kaufmann Jr., the director of the Department of Industrial Design at the MoMA in New York, became a close friend of Juhl.
His designs include his most exclusive chair, the Chieftain Chair, and the Trusteeship Council Chamber at the U.N. Headquarters in New York, now contemplated as the masterpiece of his career. He also created a furniture collection for Baker Furniture Inc., furnished the ambassador's residence at the Royal Danish Embassy, Washington D.C., and redesigned the Georg Jensen store on Fifth Avenue in New York.
Juhl is known for having been one of the first to introduce Danish Modern to America and is one of the leading characters of the mid-20th century Danish design movement.