Børge Mogensen was a Danish designer who contributed significantly to making the concept of ‘Danish Modern’ known throughout the world. One of his later and perhaps most celebrated designs is the Spanish Chair.
The Spanish Chair is Mogensen’s interpretation of a traditional chair style, often found in areas influenced by ancient Islamic culture. Mogensen got the inspiration for the chair during a stay in Spain; on his return to Denmark, he modernised the shapes and lines of the traditional design, and removed the elaborate carvings, leaving a minimum of ornamentation.
In this way, Mogensen kept the essential part of the chair: the broad armrests, where you can put your cup or glass, thus making the Spanish Chair as practical and comfortable as it is aesthetically fascinating.
Mogensen was born in the Danish city of Aalborg in 1914, and finished his apprenticeship as a cabinetmaker in 1934. Four years later, he graduated as a furniture architect from the Artisans’ Furniture School. After Mogensen’s graduation, Kaare Klint’s practice employed him, and he stayed there until he was appointed to the job of designing a whole series of furniture for the Joint Danish Consumers’ Association (now Coop Denmark) in 1942.
Mogensen’s mission was to create new furniture that could free up space in small homes and enable ordinary families to buy quality furniture at reasonable prices – the Danes were to be educated in new ways of interior decoration and to live in a new way. In this way, Mogensen was categorised as an advocate for democratic furniture that most people could afford.
Two years later, Mogensen presented a new line of furniture, which was showcased in two fully furbished apartments in Copenhagen. In 1950, he left his job at the Joint Danish Consumers’ Association and went on to start his own drawing office. It was during this period, namely in 1958, that Mogensen designed the Spanish Chair.
Though having a higher price tag, Model 2226, which is the formal name of the Spanish Chair, is unmistakably Mogensen’s work. Oak and full-grain leather, which were some of his favourite materials, constitute the frame and the seat area respectively. As the chair is quite low, it is easy to relax your feet on a footstool.
Danish furniture manufacturer Fredericia is still producing the chair. In 2008, on the occasion of the chair’s 50th birthday, Fredericia developed an Anniversary Edition, of which only 500 were produced. Still with an oak frame, the Anniversary Edition boasted a seat and back made of dark-brown nubuck leather, making it softer to sit and relax in.
Other models include frames of smoked oak, lacquered oak and black lacquered oak, while the leather is available in several colours: natural, black or cognac.