Scandinavian Minimalism meets Spanish Classicism

Scandinavian Minimalism meets Spanish Classicism

Børge Mogensen’s Spanish Chair

The Spanish Chair has endured since its conception in 1958 as one of the icons of Danish mid-century design. The origin and inspiration for this icon, however, lies over a millennium ahead of it with a design commonly seen across the Islamic world, stretching from India to Spain.

13 July 2023

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Popularised during the Spanish Baroque period, there are comparable examples exhibiting the slung leather seats and broad armrests. Mogensen encountered these classical pieces of Spanish furniture making whilst holidaying in Andalucia in 1958 inspiring him to create a full range celebrating its shapes and influencing his furniture designs further.

Introduced the same year, Mogensen presented it along with other pieces at the Danish Cabinetmakers’ Guild Exhibition under the concept of a contemporary take on a sports cabin. Set around a large zebra skin, and accompanied by an exceptionally large sofa, Mogensen’s concept notably did away with the notion of tables. The wider armrest, he argued, was ample room for a dinking glass, an ashtray, or simply to rest your legs on, making a side table superfluous alongside it.

 

An oak 'Spanish Chair' (£1,500-2,000)

An oak 'Spanish Chair' (£1,500-2,000)

 

Where the Spanish originals were lavishly ornamented with richly carved detailing, Mogensen opted for a sparser approach. Opting for a lower profile, where its predecessors sat much taller, and it also saw the implementation of a much wider armrest. The result was an instantly iconic shape, with its low minimalist form hailed as an example of the best design of the age by Danish artist and critic Johan Møller Nielsen, and that it should be enshrined within the newly opened ‘Louisiana’.

 

A Spanish walnut open elbow chair (£470)

A Spanish walnut open elbow chair (£470)

 

Whilst celebrated as an icon of the Danish design pantheon to this day and regarded as the pinnacle of luxury design in 1958, it is also a secessionist piece when considering the larger production and philosophy of Mogensen’s designs. Lavishness was never in his nature, and he championed good and attainable design for the masses – not unattainable pieces kept from the public in museums. As such, the Spanish chair was soon entered into large-scale production by Fredricia Stolefabrik and remains in production to this day.

 

An oak 'Spanish Chair' (£1,500-2,000)

 

65 years on Mogensen’s design remains as iconic and forward thinking as it did in 1958, having been continuously celebrated as one of the staples of Scandinavian minimalism for over half a century. Whilst it has found its home in museums and institutions around the world, it remains at its core an attainable piece for the masses that have come to admire it.


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