Chairs: a cruel obsession, lightly illustrated...







Finn Juhl

What began as a hunt for an Eames Lounge changed into a fascination with the work of an altogether different designer: Finn Juhl. While looking for a lounge, I discovered that I don't fit them (I'm too tall.) Given the prices the originals fetch, I'd like to be able to sit in a chair as well as admire it from across the room... So at a show, when we found a matching pair of Finn Juhl's '45 chairs for the price of a single Eames lounge, it was an easy choice. Now I can literally sit in a chair and enjoy looking at it from across the room. Somehow, this has grown into a group of 7 chairs, all by Finn Juhl, and shows no sign of stopping.

Finn Juhl's career accomplishments include:

• Designed the Trusteeship Council Chamber, U.N. Headquarters, New York, 1951 —52.
• Furniture ranges for Baker Furniture, Inc., Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1951— 55.
• Furniture ranges for France & Daverkosen, Ørholm, and France & Son, Hillerød, 1953-69.
• Designed a store in Toronto for Georg Jensen, Inc., 1956.
• Designed interior of DC-8 planes for SAS.
• Denmark´s stand at the 11th. Triennial in Milan, 1957. Awarded a gold medal.
• "The Arts of Denmark" exhibition, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1960.

There is a pretty good book by Esbjørn Hiort entitled, "Finn Juhl. Furniture - Architecture - Applied Art" you can find your copy here.

You can learn more about Juhl and his work at or Dansk Møbel Kunst.

Check out this new site: Finn which is run by the folks who have the license to produce Finn Juhl's designs. They currently produce two of Juhl's most forward looking designs the "Pelican" chair and the Model '57 couch. See their lovely site. Somehow the folks at Niels Roth Andersen are also producing Finn Juhl designs. I have had the pleasure of examining a "Chieftain" produced by them and they do great work. Ignore the picture of the Chieftain on their home page. It is a hard to photograph chair.

One more thing... check out my Danish antiquarian book seller (which is a fun phrase to drop into casual conversation) Peter Grosell.





Finn Juhl '45 chair

Finn Juhl '48 chair Finn Juhl '53 Chair Finn Juhl Recliner 1955
These are all designed by Finn Juhl (1912-1989, b. Denmark) They are, left to right, '45, '48, '53 & an unnamed 1955 recliner.
While these are not pictures of our chairs we have at least one of each of these designs...


Other Designers' Furniture
Paul Laszlo (1900-1993) and John Keal designs for Brown Saltman

Paul Laszlo
Well, we were looking for furniture for our dining room and after a few years (maybe it has become clear that we are particular about furniture) we finally found, in a small shop, a full dining room set from the 1940's. Just as with our discovery of Finn Juhl, this dining room set served as an introduction to the work of a designer we did not know: Paul Laszlo. Since then his star has risen as auction prices reach higher and higher. His later, custom work, is most prized by collectors. I'm not crazy about the most extreme items of this later, custom period. But all of it is really well conceived. Like Juhl, Laszlo, designed interiors as well as individual furnishings. John Hudspeth of Prineville Oregon has built a web site detailing some of the rooms in his home that were designed top to bottom by Paul Laszlo. He (Hudspeth) even took the time to touch-up the photos to get the images as close to the original look as possible... I'm especially covetous of the pair of low couches and the fish-shaped coffee table. Great site too.

Here are some pictures of our Paul Laszlo dining room furniture, all designed for Brown Saltman Furniture company of California.

Laszlo table Detail Paul Laszlo Table Long View Paul Laszlo Cabinet Paul Laszlo Arm Chair

John Keal
I don't know much about Mr. Keal. He worked for Brown Saltman and designed furniture in the blond mahogny that was very much in fashion. Keal was apparently fond of active furniture and tricky stuff, for lack of a better term. The two side tables we have feature a storage area with a sliding top. The coffee table has a sliding top as well. It is the only coffee table I have ever seen with a built-in coffee warmer. As a coffee AND furniture hound I could not let this table slip away. One dealer I talked to said they were sold together as a collection. This is very possible, but we gathered ours separately and I have yet to find a catalog from Brown Saltman Furniture Co. to resolve this and many other questions.

Pictured on the table is a vacuum pot, which is a kind of coffee brewer that uses steam pressure to push the hot water up to mix with the grounds and then, when cooling, vacuum pressure extracts the coffee through a filter situated at the base of the upper globe, back into the lower chamber. More complete explanations are here and here (Rich, who built the second site, is a nut and a lovely guy and has nearly a squillion vac pots including, apparently, the earliest known example.)

John Keal Coffee Table (open) John Keal Coffee Table (Closed) John Keal Side /  Lamp Table John Keale Side / Lamp Table (open)

Brown Saltman
What Heywood Wakefield did for curves and clear maple, Brown Saltman did for straight lines-and amber hued mahogeny. Brown Saltman was a smaller company it seems, and the collectors are not as numerous so there is less frenzy surrounding it.


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Chairs, yes, chairs.