upholstery of chair

Finn Juhl Upholstery Event
in Barcelona

We journey further into 2017 with exciting events in the markets on which our Finn Juhl furniture today is represented.
This year, we focus on shedding light upon the great amount of work that goes into producing each and every piece of sculptural Finn Juhl furniture. That is why we, at an event, hosted by our retailer MINIM in Barcelona, flew in our upholsterers from Denmark, so the guests could get a first-hand experience of how a 45 Chair and a Pelican Chair are upholstered by hand.

The Danish Upholstery work

The upholstering of Finn Juhl furniture takes places in Denmark, it takes years of experience, great knowledge and last, but not least, undying patience. Working with furniture is a challenge, especially furniture as organic as Finn Juhl’s. Therefore, it is essential that the upholsterers have a deep understanding of the various materials’ strengths, but also their limitations. When we produce a piece of Finn Juhl furniture, we refuse to compromise, this is how we ensure that each piece of furniture lives up to our goal of delivering furniture of the highest quality.

Finn Juhl’s Transition from Fully-upholstered Furniture to Wooden Furniture

During his first years at the Cabinetmakers’ Guild Exhibition Finn Juhl primarily worked with upholstered furniture. Most famous from this period is, among others, the iconic Pelican Chair from 1940. That is exactly why we picked the Pelican chair as one of the pieces of furniture to be upholstered live in front of an audience at the event.
If you know about Finn Juhl’s sculptural wooden furniture, it may seem odd that he actually started out working with upholstered furniture. If you are to believe Finn Juhl himself, this was due to the fact he did not know much about furniture construction nor joinery. The upholstered furniture allowed Finn Juhl to focus entirely on the sculptural, organic shapes of his furniture, which later became a trademark of his. He referred to himself as self-taught within the field of furniture design as his formal education was within the field of architecture. With upholstered furniture he would ‘only’ have to focus on the exterior shape and let master joiner Niels Vodder work on the wooden skeleton. 


The Artistic Approach

In contrast to many of his peers Finn Juhl felt that modern furniture had to refer to the contemporary art of the time. The Pelican Chair is thus a perfect example of how Finn Juhl integrated the ideals of functionalism with the free art.

Finn Juhl described his thoughts on functionalism in this way:
“If I have any idea about what I am doing, whatsoever, I may be able to express it in this way: It is so obvious that the furniture must be functional, if it not, I am severely mistaken. To me, it seems obvious, that furniture must also possess artistic quality to make it exciting and merge it with its surroundings. Furniture has never been, nor will ever be designed just to be looked at, but has to be part of a functional interior that is necessary for people in their home, office and public spaces.” 

Finn Juhl, 1965

Later, Finn Juhl became increasingly interested with applying wood as the dominant shaping material, rather than ‘hiding’ it under a cover of upholstery. When he designed the 45 Chair it had become his objective to create a chair that was almost self-explanatory in its construction, he became the first to clearly disconnect the upholstered areas from the wooden frame.
The 45 Chair, like the Pelican, is today regarded as one of Finn Juhl’s most iconic designs and has been called ‘the mother of all modern chairs’ by the Japanese professor and furniture enthusiast, Noritsugu Oda. 


“One of the best chairs, that I have ever designed, the so-called 45 Chair, which both I and apparently also the retailers as well as the consumers are still fond of was created in a single day – at least in theory. I drew it within a day, from early morning to late at night in order to have it finished before a competition held by the Cabinetmakers’ Guild. However, I had probably been working on the idea in my mind for quite some time – more or less consciously. In reality I think it will be hard for anyone who creates anything to say exactly how much time they spent creating something”

Finn Juhl,  1965