“Elephant Sofa”. A unique and sculptural, freestanding two seater sofa with round legs of maple. Sides, seat and back upholstered with charcoal grey wool, back fitted with natural leather buttons. Loose seat cushion upholstered with blue/white striped fabric. Extra charcoal grey wool cover for seat cushion included. Designed and made. 1939 by cabinetmaker Niels Vodder. L. 163 cm.
Provenance: The artist Mogens Lorentzen, hence by descent in the family.
This sofa is the sofa that was presented at the Copenhagen Cabinetmakers’ Guild Exhibition at Designmuseum Danmark in 1939. Presumably acquired directly at the Exhibition by Mogens Lorentzen, or possibly shortly after from Cabinetmaker Niels Vodder.
As a painter and author, Mogens Lorentzen was in a broad sense part of the progressive art scene in Copenhagen during the interwar period and worked as a writer for the magazines Klingen (The Blade) and Kritisk Revy (Critical Review). He also wrote the lyrics for revue songs for, among others, Poul Henningsen. In the broad Danish public, he is probably best known for his lyrics to one of the most beloved Danish Christmas songs – Juletræet med sin pynt (the Christmas tree with its decorations).
Throughout the sofa’s life with the family, it was referred to as part of the Elephant Furniture – the Elephant Sofa. The sofa has over the years been either completely or partially reupholstered an estimated two times. The legs have been “home-painted” black at some point. The sofa has now gone through a careful restoration process to return it to its original appearance.
Remains of original cushions and fabric are preserved and can be included if so desired.
An extensive amount of available extra photographs documents this process from the sofa’s unrestored condition to its present look. The extra grey wool cushion cover is just an extra “service” if one might wish, for example, to protect the striped cover. It is not part of Finn Juhl's original intentions.
Despite the sofa is clearly assumed to be the only one of its kind and is only known from references and photographs from the exhibition in 1939 it is among the most talked about and referenced Danish furniture pieces of all time.
Funnily enough, it is also among the furniture pieces, which already shortly after 1939 appears in literature and reference works of selected Danish design and decorative art, a role it has held until now. The sofa is thus a key element in the understanding and self-perception of what Danish Design is, which is paradoxical when, popularly speaking, it has been lost until now.
A non-exhaustive list of references:
Literature: Sigvard Bernadotte & Johannes Lehm-Laursen (eds.). 1947: “Moderne Dansk Boligkunst”. Volume 2, p. 222. Illustrated.
Literature: Viggo Sten Møller & Svend Erik Møller. 1951: “Dansk Møbelkunst”, p. 60. Illustrated.
Literature: Povl Christiansen & Hakon Stephensen (eds.). 1966: “Håndværket viser vejen”, pp. 84–85. Illustrated and referenced.
Literature: Grete Jalk (ed.). 1987: “Dansk møbelkunst gennem 40 Aar”. Volume 2, pp. 104–105. Illustrated and referenced.
Literature: Noritsugu Oda et al. (ed.). 1990: “Finn Memorial exhibition”. Exhibition catalogue. Sketch of sofa illustrated p. 126.
Literature: Arne Karlsen. 1991: “Dansk Møbelkunst”. Volume 2 p. 108. Illustrated and referenced.
Literature: Charlotte & Peter Fiell. 2002: “Scandinavian design”, p. 327. Illustrated and referenced.
Literature: Per H. Hansen. 2014: “Finn Juhl og hans hus”, pp. 26–27 and 203. Illustrated and referenced.