Throughout 2018 we will strive to provide deeper insight into the things we do at House of Finn Juhl. We will unveil what it's like to protect the legacy of one of the greatest designers in history, as well as take a trip down memory lane to pass on some of those quirky, little stories about the master, Finn Juhl.
Let's start the year off with a brief background story on how we acquired the rights to manufacture and market Finn Juhl’s furniture, and how we deal with this tremendous responsibility today.
A Phone Call in 1998 Sparked the Beginning of Finn Juhl’s Revival
In 1998, seemingly out of the blue, we were contacted by Finn Juhl’s widow, Hanne Wilhelm Hansen. She asked us to help her create one of his designs, a sofa for a commemorative exhibition about Finn Juhl. Hanne did not know us personally, but the architect Bård Henriksen recommended her to contact "the boys from Ringkøbing" with the request.
Impressed by our work, Hanne Wilhem Hansen subsequently decided to grant us the sole rights to reproduce Finn Juhl’s furniture, some of which, by then, existed only in a couple of handmade units from the 1940s and 50s.
Obviously, this is a great honor but also a great challenge. The truth was that, due to the characteristics of the designs, namely the organic shapes, most had never been produced in large numbers. For this reason, hardly anyone believed Finn Juhl would ever become a commercially viable brand. Fortunately, commercial viability was never the main concern for the founders, Ivan Hansen and Henrik Sørensen. “We base a lot on our intuition, and that’s both our strength and our weakness.”
Ivan Hansen and Henrik Sørensen, the self-confessed furniture nerds, were beyond ecstatic, but not everyone shared the excitement.
“When we first exhibited a Finn Juhl sofa at a furniture show, there wasn’t one single Danish furniture trader who believed in it. We were told outright: you’re not going to be able to sell that. However, slowly but surely, we began building a network of dedicated, quirky design traders.”
Ivan Hansen and Henrik Sørensen are aware that they have an alternative approach to business:
“We get completely carried away with things, sometimes the wrong things because, of course, we need to be able to sell the items too; it all needs to add up in the end. Still, we produce some items that we really love, but don’t sell enough of to make it profitable. We keep them in our collection and hope that, at some point, people will open their eyes to their qualities.” Ivan Hansen explains.
But maybe it is exactly this approach that makes the company the perfect match for Finn Juhl’s furniture. Finn Juhl once said:
“One should not despair over the fact that some of the developments one has hoped for were never produced but only became a beginning. Perhaps they will be revived some day in the future if necessary or reasonable, when the time is ripe.”