Børge Mogensen – 90 years on

The Danish Furniture designer Børge Mogensen was born 90 years ago. His designs continue to enjoy widespread appeal.

Børge Mogensen was one of the most important among a generation of furniture designers who made the concept of “Danish design” known throughout the world. Together with colleagues such as Arne Jacobsen and Hans J. Wegner, Børge Mogensen created international respect for Danish furniture design, and his simple and functional designs have for more than half a century enjoyed worldwide demand.

On 13 April 2004, Børge Mogensen would have celebrated his 90 th birthday. Even though many of his most acknowledged pieces were drawn more than 50 years ago, interest in his designs remains undiminished. The name Børge Mogensen is synonymous with functional classics, and the timeless simplicity that characterises his
furniture appeals to many different cultures and generations.

Idealistic design
Børge Mogensen was an idealist who would not have relished hearing his designs being described as exclusive. Good furniture should not be the reserve of the few, but something all people should be able to enjoy. Some of his greatest classics were created through collaborating with the Danish cooperative chain FDB, which during the post-war years provided Danes with quality furniture at affordable prices; this was something of a revolution, but thanks to the Børge Mogensen’s enduring designs, this furniture can still be found in many a Danish home.

His aim was to create furniture to use and to living with. He regarded his own home as a laboratory according to the philosophy that the best test to which a piece of furniture can be subjected is to have it in one’s own living room and use it. And one of the most famous of Børge Mogensen’s numerous and varied designs is the sofa 2213 that was in fact specially designed for his house in Gentofte in north Copenhagen; here, it still stands in the sitting room between the two tables which dictated the sofa’s dimensions.

Preferred the simple and natural
Børge Mogensen drew much of his inspiration from English furniture and the distinctive American Shaker furniture – furniture from long-standing traditions which Børge Mogensen simplified and made more elegant without compromising the solid, functional quality. Simplicity and naturalness also characterised his choice of materials. He preferred to work using light, Scandinavian wood types such as beech, oak, ash and birch and was reluctant to use steel in his furniture.

Most of Børge Mogensen’s furniture is produced and marketed by FREDERICIA FURNITURE A/S – an alliance which goes back almost 50 years. The collaboration between the designer Børge Mogensen and the manufacturer Andreas Graversen started back in 1952, but really got under way in 1955 when Graversen took over FREDERICIA FURNITURE A/S. This heralded the start of much more than just working together professionally. Over the years they formed a strong – yet temperamental – friendship based on their common
desire to create simple, quality furniture with a timeless, aesthetic value. In 1971 Mogensen and Graversen were awarded the Furniture Prize for their significant contribution to Danish furniture design. Andreas Graversen and FREDERICIA FURNITURE A/S are inextricably linked with Børge Mogensen’s furniture design.

Impressive production
The obvious simplicity which characterises Børge Mogensen’s furniture did not just happen, but was the result of an uncompromising quest for the perfect solution. Børge Mogensen was always committed to his work of designing furniture, and the ideas, which came to him at all hours of the day and night, were scribbled down on matchboxes, napkins and scrunched-up envelopes. The result was an impressive breadth of work, but also that Børge Mogensen wore himself out completely, dying in 1972 aged only 58.

Today, Børge Mogensen’s studio is run by his son Peter Mogensen, himself a trained furniture designer who has continued the collaboration with FREDERICIA FURNITURE A/S. He has completed one of the series his father failed to finish before his premature death, and has also successfully redesigned one of his father’s conference
chairs to a lower lounge chair. Furthermore, Børge Mogensen’s wife, Alice Mogensen, has donated the entire Børge Mogensen archive to The Danish Museum of Decorative Art, an archive that comprises thousands of drawings and sketches. Peter Mogensen has been responsible for this considerable project which has involved
scanning and digitalising his late father’s drawings.

Børge Mogensen’s other son, Thomas Mogensen, has just put the finishing touches to an extremely personal book he has written about his father which is being published by Gyldendal this autumn.

Scandinavian Furniture Fair
FREDERICIA FURNITURE A/S is marking Børge Mogensen’s 90 th birthday with a special exhibition entitled “Miles, Monk, Mingus and Mogensen” at the Scandinavian Furniture Fair on 12 - 16 May 2004 in Copenhagen. The exhibition is based on Børge Mogensen’s lifelong love of jazz music and jazz musicians.

For further information, please contact Ole Bjerg, Sales Director, FREDERICIA FURNITURE A/S on telephone
+45 75 92 33 44, or visit the following web sites:

Børge Mogensen – facts
Cabinetmaker 1934. Trained at the School of Arts and Crafts and at the Furniture School of the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts (1936-42). Head of FDB’s furniture design studio 1942-50. Own design studio from 1950. One-man exhibitions in Zurich, London, New York, Stockholm, Paris and Copenhagen. Awarded e.g. the Eckersberg Medaillen (1950) and the C.F. Hansen medal (1972).

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