Within Danish design, the bond between Japan and Denmark is a focal point, because of the striking similarities in traditional craftsmanship and quality. House of Finn Juhl's affiliation with Japan goes back many years - and Finn Juhl reaches back even further. This particular relationship with Japan is now being celebrated with 25 limited edition Chieftain Chairs in Hokkaido oak. Each chair has a brass engraving on the frame under the seat (numbered 1-25) and comes with a signed certificate of authenticity. The limited edition of the Chieftain Chair in Hokkaido Oak will be exhibited at the Danish museum Trapholt.
The Bond with Japan
Finn Juhl was strongly inspired by Japan and likewise, the Japanese have shown great interest in Finn Juhl throughout the years. The single largest collection of Finn Juhl furniture is also to be found in Japan. This collection is owned by the Japanese professor and furniture collector Mr. Noritsugu Oda, who also knew Finn Juhl personally.
Today, Mr. Oda is a dear friend of House of Finn Juhl and he, alongside with the Finn Juhl production in Japan, represents a strong tie to the country. Whenever a new piece of furniture is to be relaunched, the piece in question is loaned from Mr. Oda, to compare the furniture with Finn Juhl's original drawings - in order to achieve the best and most original result.
The tie to Japan has recently lead to the opening of Hotel House of Finn Juhl Hakuba in 2016. The hotel is operated by Danish and Japanese staff and is located in a valley between the snow covered mountains of the Japanese alps. Hotel House of Finn Juhl Hakuba is furnished entirely with Finn Juhl's sculptural furniture.
About Hokkaido Oak
The wood used for the 25 limited edition Chieftain Chairs was located and acquired by House of Finn Juhl's Japanese partner at a timber warehouse, where the owner had a batch of mid 20th century Hokkaido oak in stock.
Hokkaido oak grows at a very slow pace in the colder area of Hokkaido, making it ex-tremely strong and durable. For generations, it has been used for railway ties and floors in Japan. From the beginning of the 20th century Hokkaido oak became a very popular export commodity, because of its extremely dense grain structure, which is ideal for fur-niture manufacturing. The affection for Hokkaido oak also spread to Denmark, especial-ly during the middle of the 20th century, coinciding with Denmark's golden age of furni-ture design.
Hokkaido oak trees should be at least 100 years old before logging and therefore, there is no export from young plantations. With the unique find of old Hokkaido oak, a wish to do something special arose. Therefore, House of Finn Juhl decided to produce 25 limited edition Chieftain Chairs. The Chieftain Chair is otherwise available in teak or walnut and has never before been produced in oak.
Production in Japan
When House of Finn Juhl was granted the exclusive rights to manufacture Finn Juhl's furniture in 2001, it was both a great opportunity and a precious legacy to protect. For the upholstered pieces, such as the Poet and the Pelican, the best Danish hand-upholsterers were located. However, the sculptural wooden pieces, such as the 45 Chair and the Chieftain Chair, presented a bit more of a challenge.
Initially, House of Finn Juhl was on the look-out for a workshop in Denmark that could live up to the task of producing the most intricate wooden pieces. However, either their quality fell short or they demanded that very large quantities were to be produced at a time, which wasn't an option. It is crucial to emphasize that Finn Juhl made bespoke fur-niture and even today the production is based on individual orders.
The solution came from afar, namely from Japan when a good friend of House of Finn Juhl recommended a small, yet extremely competent, workshop in Yamagata, Japan. Ivan Hansen, partner and founder of House of Finn Juhl, explains:
"At first we doubted that this would be feasible, as it was likely to become too complicated and expensive. It is of the utmost importance to point out that Japan is not the country to choose if you are looking to obtain cost advantages. Quite the contrary. However, the passionate joiners in Japan work without compromise. When producing sculptural furniture with delicate details we could not wish for a better partner. Their hearts beat to achieve the sublime and they manage this by combining craftsmanship with modern technology. The Japanese have a deep understanding for using technology to obtain strong and precise joints of the delicate wooden materials, so that the Finn Juhl furniture remains durable for generations to come. At the same time, they are proud and conscious when it comes to the advanced craftsmanship, which is crucial for the organic shapes of Finn Juhl's furniture."
House of Finn Juhl manufactures the most complicated wooden frames in Japan.
Afterwards the delicate frames are shipped back to Denmark for upholstery and final finish.
In 2016 House of Finn Juhl opened a Finn Juhl hotel in Hakuba, Japan: houseoffinnjuhlhakuba.com
Design: Finn Juhl
Year: 1949, relaunched in 2002
Measurements: Width 100 cm x Depth 88 cm x Height 92.5 cm
Seat height: 34.5 cm
Materials: Hokkaido oak, leather