Legends of Danish design
12.04.2017 – 11.06.2017
On April 12, 2017 “The Legends of Danish Design” exhibition will open at the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, set up by Moscow Design Museum in collaboration with the Royal Danish Library (Copenhagen) and Dansk Møbelkunst Gallery (Copenhagen), supported by the Royal Danish Embassy in Moscow and the Ministry of Cultural Affairs of Denmark.
The exhibition will feature eight most famous chairs from eight famous Danish designers – Arne Jacobsen, Hans J. Wegner, Børge Mogensen, Kaare Klint, Finn Juhl, Grete Jalk, Poul Kjærholm and Verner Panton, as well as the legendary ARTICHOKE lamp by Poul Henningsen. The exhibits will be supplemented with drawings, sketches, advertising posters, photos and video materials from archives that will tell about the history of each chair, its author, and time. The goal set by the curators is to present classic Danish design through the objects that the Russian viewer primarily associates it with – and to show what has made Denmark one of the leading countries in the field of design.
Design occupies an important place both in the country’s economy and in the Danes’ lives. The works of Danish designers have become not just the classics, but truly emblematic objects of the twentieth century. Design plays a significant role in Denmark’s ‘individuality’, style, and the Danish citizens’ way of life.
The first professional woodworkers guilds appeared in Denmark at the beginning of the 16th century: in 1515, a carpenters’ guild was created, and in 1554 there was established a guild of cabinetmakers, top class craftsmen, who created furniture from expensive types of wood. The guilds set quality standards for goods, supervised the production process as well as training and certifying artisans. Potential guild members presented their products to an expert review committee. At the beginning of the 20th century, this tradition developed into annual professional exhibitions, where unique, benchmark samples of furniture were demonstrated.
In 1930–1950, Danish artisan workshops were compelled to compete with other European industrial enterprises. During that period, the guilds resolved two problems: on the one hand, they proved the advantages of hand-made, individual craftsmanship and on the other hand, they stimulated the development of local mass production. Its necessity was dictated, among other things, by mass construction of public buildings that required new furniture.
In Denmark, industrial design was created to support mass production – high-quality properties were achieved due to the perfectly created form of the object, and properly selected colours and materials.
The famous Designmuseum Danmark was conceived as an ‘educational centre’ for local producers and artisans. Its founders were sure that, in order to develop all industrial sectors, it was necessary to pay a lot of attention to design, to introduce professionals to its best examples from around the world, as well as to its history so that they could improve their artisan skills. The museum’s collection, library, and archives became a mecca and an important source of information for designers. After its opening to the general public in 1895, it was also supposed to shape up and form good taste. Currently, the richest collection at the Designmuseum Danmark includes works of decorative and applied art, as well as samples of industrial design from Western Europe, the Far East, China and Japan from the Middle Ages up to the present. Special attention is paid to decorative and applied art by Danish designers from the start of the 20th century up to the present.
Danish design as a symbol of elegance, simplicity, and functionality, is famous throughout the world. Exhibition projects linked with Danish design do not occur frequently in Russia. The curators are convinced that this exhibition will launch the start of familiarization with the history of Danish design, and will be interesting for both professionals and amateurs.
The Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts
12 Volkhonka, Moscow, Russia