Joy. The warm feeling of an inner smile and pride in the purity of a passionate design. By the end of this text, you may well feel the same way. This is a story about an inspired friendship between a renowned Danish architect and two guys passionate about furniture, quality and attention to detail. The friendship began in 1998, even though by this point in time the Danish architect involved had already left this mortal world.
“Finn Juhl originally wanted to be an artist, but due to his parents influence, he ended up as an architect. However, his work reflects an artistic soul and his respect for the material and the craftsman he works with”, explains Henrik Sørensen. Sørensen manages and owns the company Onecollection with Ivan Hansen. In 1998, they manufactured their first Finn Juhl design and with this they planted the roots for a long relationship with his designs. Two years later in 2000, they acquired the exclusive rights to produce his iconic furniture from the 1940s and 50s.
“We were contacted by the widow of Finn Juhl, Hanne Wilhelm Hansen, with the purpose of creating one of his designs, a sofa for a commemorational exhibition, which fitted our ethos perfectly as we were already in love with quality, design and historical furniture. However, we never imagined it would be possible to work with his products, his name or his brand”, Henrik Sørensen says and continues, “We never bothered to talk numbers or economics during this talk as we considered it such a big honour to even have the possibility to work with his designs. Today it is still a big honour to maintain his brand and his legacy”.
The ability of a Finn Juhl piece
The awe towards the legacy of Finn Juhl arises from the body of each of his designs: “All of his furniture pieces are so different from the legacy of conventional Danish design. The quality in the craftsmanship is one thing – albeit this is shared with several other Danish designs – but also his ability to create a living piece of furniture, almost creature- or animal-like, each time is astonishing. His works are living pieces of art and feel more like a sense or feeling than a piece of furniture”, states Henrik Sørensen, who further underlines the fact that the works of Finn Juhl are not supposed to be either trendy or defining for a room or as an interior decoration: “From my point of view, they are at the same time very present in a room – as a person would be – yet still understated and with a quiet, insistent quality”.
The image of Finn Juhl
As Henrik Sørensen and Finn Juhl himself only had the pleasure of meeting once – before Onecollection acquired the exclusive rights to produce his works – it must be left unsaid whether the furniture that Onecollection produces today in the image of Finn Juhl also reflects his personality. Yet Henrik Sørensen and Ivan Hansen say they have “known” him for almost two decades through his work, and this friendship is the fundamental basis on which they continuously work:
“We know him as an original. When everyone else in his time strived for functionality and straight lines, he played with an organic and living touch. A lot of his fellow designers at that time had a background in craftsmanship, whereas he was an architect actually wishing to be an artist. All in all, he chose his own ways to build upon a belief of pushing boundaries and testing materials”.
Maintaining the brand
The last point: pushing boundaries and testing materials are some of what drives Onecollection today in maintaining the brand of Finn Juhl: “Because his work is so unique and he was so original, we believe Finn Juhl to be a strong brand that gives us the possibility to try out new collaborations or new fabrics with classical products – as long as what we do is in the memory and the image of him”, Henrik Sørensen smiles.
One of the latest initiatives that Onecollection has taken to push boundaries in the products and brands is through the opening of a hotel in Nagano, Japan. Here you’ll find an entire hotel decorated with pieces by Finn Juhl:
“Japanese collectors have been very loyal to the works of Finn Juhl, even during the period of time when the rest of the world had a lack of interest for him. But the collectors are not alone in this regard in Japan, Finn Juhl actually has quite a high popularity in Japan due to the craftsmanship displayed in his pieces and probably also because of the elegant and subtle way he added the little details”.
Facts on Onecollection:
First Finn Juhl product: 1998
Exclusive rights to Finn Juhl designs: 2000
Number of Finn Juhl designs on sale: 40
Number of markets: 30