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Børge Mogensen is a world-renowned Danish furniture designer whose timeless classics continue to be sought after by enthusiasts and furniture collectors even today, more than 60 years after they were first produced. With great success both in Denmark and abroad, Mogensen’s style appeals to many different generations and is widely appreciated throughout the world.
Early Life and Education
Børge Mogensen was born in Aalborg, Denmark in 1914. He started his career as a cabinetmaker in 1934 and studied furniture design at the Danish School of Arts and Crafts in Copenhagen from 1936-1938. Afterwards, he trained as an architect at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts’ School of Architecture, Design and Conversation in Copenhagen, under the mentorship of well-known professor Kaare Klint. Børge made a very good impression on the professor, so when he graduated in 1942, he became Klint’s assistant teacher. At that time he started his studies at the Furniture School at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts.
During his time with Kaare Klint, Mogensen fostered a deep commitment to producing classical, simple and highly functional furniture. He also became interested in researching contemporary lifestyles with the aim of designing everyday objects that are customized for specific uses. Continuing Klint’s innovative studies in how the size and proportions of objects should influence their design, Mogensen cooperated with Grethe Meyer on a project in 1954 called the Boligens Byggeskabe which introduced the idea of building shelves and storage units as parts of the room, rather than purchasing separate elements and placing them in the space.
Børge Mogensen’s collaboration with FDB
In 1942 Mogensen was awarded the title of the president of Fællesforeningen for Danmarks Brugsforeninger (Joint Association of Denmark's Consumer Cooperatives), often abbreviated as FDB. Some of Mogensen’s greatest classics were created in cooperation with FDB, Denmark’s largest consumer co-operative business, which supplied the Danes with high-quality furniture at affordable prices in the post-war period. At the time, this idea was seen as somewhat of a revolution, but the project was a great success with Børge Mogensen’s enduring quality and lasting designs which can be found in many Danish homes even today.
Being somewhat of an idealist, Mogensen probably wouldn’t be too happy to hear that his design is described as exclusive. It was his belief that good furniture should not be reserved for the few lucky ones who can afford it, but something that everyone has the right to enjoy. His goal was to make simple, but functional and practical furniture that could be afforded by anyone. With that design philosophy, Mogensen focused on both appearance and functionality and was often at odds with colleagues who gave way to fashion trends, neglecting functionality or using unnecessarily expensive materials. Wood of various kinds was his favourite material and was used in almost all of his works.
The Inspiration for the Timeless Classics
Today, Børge Mogensen is synonymous with the functional interior design classics and a timeless simplicity that remained the most prominent feature of his designs. Alongside designers like Arne Jacobsen and Hans Wegner, Morgensen contributed to the international recognition and popularity of modern Danish design with his simple and functional design which has generated a global demand that has persisted for over half a century.
As a furniture designer and a carpenter, Mogensen was an exceptionally productive craftsman who produced thousands of pieces of furniture. He was also known for his sudden bursts of creativity and inspiration – many of his designs begun as little more than rough sketches on matchboxes, napkins and scraps of paper, or models pieced together from random materials that happened to be a hand.
Influence of British and American Style
English and American furniture, especially in Shaker style, was a great inspiration for Mogensten. While appreciating their traditional characteristics, he simplified the designs and made them more stylish without compromising their functionality. Simplicity and naturalness played an important role not only in his approach to design but also in his choice of materials. Børge was reluctant to make use of steel in his furniture and instead preferred to work with light Scandinavian woods such as beech, oak, ash and birch.
Living Room as a Laboratory
Børge felt that the best way to test his furniture was to place it in his own living room. With the goal to create simple, but long-lasting furniture which will fulfil the functional demands of everyday life, he regarded his home as a kind of a laboratory for his designs. One of the most famous and varied furniture pieces designed and tested in this way was couch 2213, initially made for his private house in Gentofte in the northern part of Copenhagen. Today, it still stands in the living room between the two tables that highlighted the dimensions of the sofa.
Børge Mogensen’s Best-Known Furniture Pieces
Mogensen’s Spokeback sofa was considered a big innovation in furniture design with its lightness and simple, open design that differed from most sofas produced at the time. He also gained recognition for his famous Spanish chair, a low, sturdy armchair designed in 1959. Many of his works are considered iconic pieces of Danish furniture design and include
- Øresund series
- Søborg chair
- J64 armchair
- 2213 sofa
- 2212 sofa
- C18 dining table
Mogensen and Fredericia Furniture A/S
Most of Børge Mogensen’s furniture was manufactured and marketed by Fredericia Furniture A/S, and this partnership lasted for nearly 60 years, playing an important role in his long and productive career. Brought together by the desire to create simple quality furniture with a timeless aesthetic value, Børge Mogensen and Andreas Graversen met in 1952, but many argue that their collaboration truly started in 1955, when Graversen took over Fredericia Furniture A/S. This heralded the start of a lot more than just professional collaboration, as the two developed strong, but at times temperamental friendship. In 1971 they were jointly awarded the Furniture Prize for their significant contribution to Danish furniture design. Results of their long-term collaboration are still widely appreciated today and can be found in private houses and public offices alike.
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