Signs of wrinkles and grey hair are quite normal around the age of 70. But if you are a chair designed by Finn Juhl the situation is different. The 70th anniversary of the iconic Chieftain reveals a chair still standing strong and stylish, with its unique construction and ever-elegant expression.
“I started drawing the Chieftain Chair one day in the spring of 1949. I was at home, and I started drawing a small sketch around 10 am, with just four vertical lines connected to something. By two or three o’clock in the morning I had painted it. But in reality, I don’t know how long it took me to design that chair.”
The words were spoken by renowned Danish designer Finn Juhl, who designed the Chieftain Chair 70 years ago this year. Soon after its unveiling, the Chieftain´s shape grabbed peoples’ attention. Its size was quite unique and, with its organic shape and exotic expression, one of the most expressive and iconic pieces of furniture had been born.
The Chieftain Chair came to life with the help of the well-known and exquisitely skilled joiner Niels Vodder. He made Finn Juhl´s visions a reality and was able to craft Finn Juhl’s defining characteristics, such as the separation between supporting elements (the frame) and supported elements (the backrest and seat).
At House of Finn Juhl, the anniversary is being celebrated by changing absolutely nothing. Co-founder and owner of the company, Hans Henrik Sørensen explains:
“The Chieftain Chair liberated itself from the strict tradition of functionalism, both in terms of organic shapes, unique construction and impeccable quality. The chair is exactly as it is supposed to be – which is why we are refraining from the temptation of launching an anniversary model. The Chieftain does not need any “extra sparkle”. There is something entirely different at play here. Despite its 70 years of age, it has never been more current. We believe that this is due to the way the chair appeals to the senses, the feelings and the artistic expression. You simply feel like a chieftain while seated!”
House of Finn Juhl were granted the exclusive rights to produce and relaunch Finn Juhl’s furniture in 2001. Rising to the challenge, they decided that the Chieftain was one of the first designs they wanted to revive. The chair’s special and unique background story, the intention of creating a wooden armchair where people could decide how they wanted to sit and its sheer size and sensuous shape all grabbed their attention.
In 2012 the Chieftain Chair received the much vaunted “Danish Design Award – Classic”.
About Finn Juhl
Finn Juhl is considered to be among the best of the best designers during the golden age of Danish design, using his intuition and basic measurement of the human proportions when shaping and sketching a piece of furniture. Unlike any other designer in Denmark at that time, Finn Juhl had an undogmatic interpretation of functionalism, along with an organic and sculptural mode of expression.
Finn Juhl was inspired by ancient Egyptian furniture. About the Chieftain Chair he stated,
“I stole the right angle and curved back. It is important to note that I have been more amazed by the simplest and most elegant furniture from Egypt than I have with any other ancient furniture.”
You can read more about House of Finn Juhl in their company profile