Børge Mogensen’s 100th anniversary year
The Trapholt musueum is paying tribute to Børge Mogensen on the occasion of his 100th anniversary year. Many Danes have experienced his design firsthand, because Mogensen’s furniture has appointed public spaces and private residences in Denmark over the past 70 years.
The exhibition shows designs and commercials from the early Børge Mogensen furniture program for the Fællesforeningen af Danmarks Brugsforeninger (FDB). Mogensen was hired with a view towards developing a furniture concept featuring practical, simple, straightforward furniture that was intended to be used in the daily lives of Danes. This conception was partially a result of a problematic housing situation, where many apartments were of limited size, but was also part of a larger international modernist movement, where dwellings were part of an important societal transformation process.
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In the exhibition Trapholt shows designs and commercials from the very young Børge Mogensen furniture program for the Fællesforeningen af Danmarks Brugsforeninger (FDB). When he was 28, Mogensen was hired with a view towards developing a furniture concept featuring practical, simple, straightforward furniture. FDB’s vision to create honest, sound furniture was partially a result of a problematic housing situation, where many apartments were of limited size, but was also part of a larger international modernist movement, where dwellings were part of an important societal transformation process. At that time, it was the individual who was the central consideration, rather than the actual furniture, which informed the fitting and arrangement of interiors.
Børge Morgensen was deeply fascinated by the furniture produced by the Shaker religious order, whose members emigrated to America in the 1700s. The strict idiom and sterile approach to interior design is a unifying principle throughout Mogensen’s working life, which can be seen both in the Folkestolen (The People’s Chair -J38) from 1947 and in Boligens Byggeskabe (modular cabinets) from the 1950s. The value of neatness in the residence dealt with more than just dust and dirt; it included mental hygiene and clean design. Furniture was to be straightforward, pure and simple as opposed to the imitations of style that were cobbled together at that time.
Børge Mogensen’s designs spoke to people of modest means, who sought quality without lavishness, such as the total outfitting of Løgumkloster Refugium, and also to intellectual customers who were aware of the ideological intention behind the furniture, as well as the exclusive genuine leather furniture available in the higher price range. Mogensen’s iconic piece, the Spanish Chair, is considered to be the pinnacle of his life’s work, with its characteristic combination of fine, natural materials executed in a very expressive, yet extremely restrained idiom.
During the period 1939 to 1963, the annual exhibition hosted by the Danish Cabinetmakers Guild served as a playground for Børge Mogensen’s experiments, which later became modified for production. In the round gallery, you can see Mogensen’s contributions to these exhibitions over twenty-four years. As an extension of the Cabinetmakers Guild’s exhibition in 1962, a turbulent controversy broke out, which had to do with the definition of Danish design. In his contribution to the debate, Mogensen criticized his contemporary colleagues for not being loyal to the Danish tradition. This lead to a year-long debate about Danish tradition, its roots in Kaare Klint’s school of furniture, and the quality of the design of that time. During the same period, Mogensen’s spoke back sofa from 1945 was re-launched by Fritz Hansen as the “most Danish” of all sofas. Does a ‘true’ Danish design exist? We will let the visitors decide.
Photos courtesy of FREDERICIA FURNITURE