Extremely rare coffee table with three-legged teak frame. Sculptural top of solid Oregon pine, fold down leaf of solid teak with circular brass inlay. Designed 1949. This example made 1949 by cabinetmaker Niels Vodder. H. 50 cm. L. 110 cm. W. 41.5/64.5 cm.
Provenance: Carl Aage Levin, CEO and owner of Lyfa. Acquired approx. 1949–50, hence by descent in the family.
Exhibited: This very table was presented at The Copenhagen Cabinetmakers' Guild Exhibition at Designmuseum Danmark, 1949.
Literature: Grete Jalk [ed.]: “40 Years of Danish Furniture Design”, vol. 3, ill. p. 123.
In 1949, Finn Juhl collaborated once more with cabinetmaker Niels Vodder on an exhibition stand at the annual Cabinetmakers’ Guild Exhibition.
In a year that in many ways was the breakthrough for Danish furniture art, the exhibition stand also represented a climax for Finn Juhl's creativity. He delivered an ensemble of furniture pieces that included several of the greatest icons of Danish furniture art and design in the 20th century, such as the Chieftain Chair, the rare Chieftain Sofa Bench, and the coveted Egyptian Chair. The stand was structured around Finn Juhl's intuitive understanding of shapes, colours and materials. His furniture was part of a functional and aesthetic whole, where they played into the surrounding art, lighting, etc. and left the viewers wanting more. While the Egyptian and Chieftain Chairs became favourites in the public and were put into production during the following years at Niels Vodder, the organic, sculptural coffee table remained a bull’s eye design but was only known from this exhibition. As a type, it also represented a climax for Finn Juhl – as the culmination of a series of organically shaped coffee tables where the composition of materials and colour plays on a duality between function and aesthetics.
Here, the circular brass inlay is useful as a ‘hot plate’ but also contributes to the highly graphical expression. The contrast between the darker teak wood in the frame and the fold down leaf to the lighter Oregon pine of the top matches the contrast between the upholstery and the frame of the Chieftain Sofa Bench that was also part of the exhibition stand. The coffee table’s organically rounded shapes are broken by the straight lines formed by the legs, the bottom side of the stretchers as well as the fold down leaf. The slightly delicate and floating expression is countered by a large inserted iron block underneath the plate that ensures its stability.
The cosmopolitan Finn Juhl originally imagined the table to be displayed together with a Gino Sarfatti lamp from Arteluce, Italy. However, it seems that this lamp never gained access to the Design Museum Denmark, the national cathedral of Danish design. It is therefore almost an odd sense of poetic justice that after the exhibition the table ended up with the owner and director of one of Denmark's largest lighting manufacturers, Lyfa. The story doesn't say anything about whether another lamp was placed on the table.
The table is the very same example that was exhibited in 1949, and as far as anyone knows it is the only example that has been up for sale and made by Niels Vodder.