In 2016, we relaunched the France Chair. Since then, it has become a bestselling favorite in record time. The France Chair was designed by Finn Juhl in 1956. It has many of Finn Juhl's characteristic details, which may help explain why people are so captivated by it. At the same time, it is a price friendly alternative to even the more complicated, handcrafted pieces, such as the 45 Chair or the Chieftain Chair. The France Chair also marked the beginning of an exciting export story about industrial production that you can read or re-read below.
The chair has, until now, been available in oak, smoked oak, beech and black painted, but we have decided to accommodate the strong demand and launch a classic version in walnut.
France's Export Adventure
Finn Juhl rode a wave of international success during the 1950s - in part thanks to his partnership with the Danish furniture manufacturer France & Søn.
Charles William Fearnley France was a British businessman who moved to Denmark in 1936 to run a small mattress factory together with cabinetmaker Eric Daverkosen, who passed away the following year. When the Germans occupied Denmark during WWII, C.W.F. France was sent to Germany as a prisoner of war. During the five years he languished in prison, he formulated his groundbreaking business plan, which he put into practice upon his return to Denmark during the 1950's and 60's.
C.W.F. France identified and started partnerships with the most promising Danish furniture designers - most prominently Finn Juhl. The designers developed furniture of a very high standard, which were produced at industrial scale and sold flat-packed. This strategy paved the way for exporting the furniture at a fraction of the usual cost.
During the 1950s, the company became extremely successful. At the company's peak France & Daverkosen accounted for 60% of all Danish furniture exports and employed 350 people. In 1957, the company changed its name to France & Søn, when his son James France joined the company. In 1966, the company was sold to Poul Cadovius. The company no longer exists.
The France Chair, or FJ 136 as it is also known, was designed for the American market. It was originally delivered flat-packed as knock-down furniture, which was France's business idea and the main driver for his phenomenal success on the American market. Today, however, the chair is delivered fully assembled.
When we launched the chair, we were given the permission to name the chair after C.W.F France, from his son James France.
Interested in knowing more about the story behind C.W.F. France's export success? Buy the book "France & Søn - British Pioneer of Danish furniture", written by James France.