The Finn Juhl Chamber at the United Nations’ Headquarters
On April 25th 2013, the renovated version of the iconic Trusteeship Council Chamber at the United Nations’ Headquarters in New York was inaugurated. The chamber, which was designed by Finn Juhl and originally inaugurated in 1952, is also known as the Finn Juhl Chamber. Both the reissue of the original Finn Juhl chairs and the new chairs and tables by Kasper Salto and Thomas Sigsgaard are developed and produced by House of Finn Juhl – Onecollection.
Designing and building the Trusteeship Council Chamber
When the United Nations’ Headquarters were built more than 60 years ago, the Danish nation donated the design and furnishings for the Trusteeship Council Chamber. It was the young architect Finn Juhl who was tasked with the prestigious challenge. He created a historic design that came to have international consequences for Denmark as a design nation. His style became known as Danish Modern.
Finn Juhl intended to create a so-called Gesamtkunstwerk – an all-embracing art form where every design element complements each other to create a functional and aesthetic unity. The Chamber is a beautiful and important testament to Danish cultural heritage and is often referred to as The Finn Juhl Chamber.
In connection with the renovation to the U.N. complex on Manhattan, Denmark again chose to make a donation to the U.N. This time, the money was earmarked for ensuring that the Finn Juhl Chamber was brought back to its original condition as well as for introducing modern Danish design on this prestigious global stage.
Two hundred and sixty of Finn Juhl’s original delegate chair, the so-called FJ 51 from 1951, were specially re-issued for the Chamber. Made in American walnut and with exactly the same shade of blue woollen upholstery as originally chosen by Finn Juhl according to his 60-year-old material card. The fabric was designed by the Danish weaver Hanne Vedel.
House of Finn Juhl – Onecollection also produced and delivered Finn Juhl’s modern heir: Salto & Sigsgaard’s chair named The Council Chair and new custom-made tables also designed by Salto & Sigsgaard in a completely new layout for the Chamber.
It is the young design team of architect Thomas Sigsgaard and designer Kasper Salto who grasped the spirit of the Chamber and elegantly transposed Finn Juhl’s legacy into the 21stcentury with their sculpture of a moulded shell chair. The shells of the seat and back are produced in moulded Reholz 3D veneer. Inside, the tight organic upholstery in natural leather fits the body like a glove. The elegant swivel base is cast in aluminium.
”It has been enormously challenging but also a lot of fun to be part of the process of creating Salto & Sigsgaards furniture for the Chamber. The fact that everything has gone so smoothly is almost unreal! Together with the designers we have constantly had to balance on the edge of what is technically possible and collect expertise from all corners of the globe. At the same time, we have worked in a very small time frame where nothing was allowed to go wrong. Today, however, we feel that we have created something beautiful and ground breaking in tandem with the designers. We hope this can inject new interest into Danish design from an international perspective. What a shame Finn Juhl himself couldn’t experience this.” - Hans Henrik Sørensen, Co-Founder og House of Finn Juhl - Onecollection.
“People ask us what is especially Danish about this chair. Apart from the light Nordic colour and our love of using wood, we also think it has to do with our approach: We put a lot of effort into assembling all possible influences of the assignment before giving it shape. By doing so, we had a good chance of making something useful and relevant. Besides that, there is always a reason for what we do, and that often helps us in our discussions with the various teams we work with. For instance, we designed the secretaries’ chairs with armrests. At first the UN was hesitant to allocate chairs with armrests to employees with the status of secretary, but because we presented them with our intensions, we came to an agreement.” - Kasper Salto & Thomas Sigsgaard, Designers.