To welcome the House of Finn Juhl to The Conran Shop, we take a closer look at one of the most iconic re-released classics in its collection, the France Chair.
Conceptualised by Finn Juhl in 1956 and re-issued by OneCollection in 2016 to mark the design’s 60th anniversary, the iconic France Chair is one of the Danish master’s most celebrated designs.
Revered as one of the most influential pioneers of mid-century design and the first Danish furniture designer to achieve international recognition, Finn Juhl is seen by many as the master of Danish Modern.
A self-taught designer, he originally studied to become an architect at the Royal Academy of Arts in Copenhagen but worked with the mindset of a sculptor when creating his designs. Rather than thinking in terms of practicality, Finn Juhl broke free from the constraints of conventional working methods to create truly innovative designs.
Designing his pieces around the shape of the human body, Finn Juhl’s creations display a more relaxed and natural form than those of his modernist contemporaries. This organic touch is apparent in the curves of the Chieftain Chair’s armrests, the versatility of the Pelican Chair and the unifying nature of the Eye Table, all of which showcase the designer’s signature curved lines and soft angles.
Despite exemplifying the natural shapes and distinct design characteristics that are typical of Finn Juhl’s creations, the France Chair has a remarkably simpler expression. Also known as the FJ 136 Chair, the design boasts an upholstered leather body that seems to float above the organically-shaped wooden frame as if freed from the confines of gravity and a naturally curved armrest typical of Juhl.
The first Finn Juhl design to be produced on an industrial scale, the France Chair was originally delivered flat-packed in an ingenious move conceived by Danish furniture manufacturer France & Søn to successfully capture the US market.
Founded and run by English businessman C.W.F. France and his son James, in 1954 France & Søn accounted for the majority of Danish furniture exports. Praised for the universal success of the iconic chair, in 2016 the name of the FJ 136 Chair was changed to honour C.W.F. France, with the permission of his son James.
The founder of OneCollection, Henrik Sørensen, praises C.W.F. France for making Finn Juhl’s unique furniture accessible worldwide and therefore ensuring Juhl was “part of the great Danish design history that everybody in Denmark is so proud of”.
Not without an incredible Conran connection, our founder Sir Terence Conran was honoured to write the foreword to France & Søn: British Pioneer of Danish Furniture, written by James France. A close friend of C.W.F. France and a great admirer of his work, Sir Terence lauds France as the catalyst behind bringing 1950s Danish design to Europe.
The re-introduction of Finn Juhl’s designs owes itself entirely to Finn Juhl’s wife Hanne Wilhelm Hansen and Danish design house OneCollection. In 2001, having been approached by Hansen to reproduce the 57 Sofa for an exhibition in her husband’s honour, OneCollection was inspired to study Finn Juhl’s materials and relaunch the Poet Sofa and the Pelican Chair with Hansen’s permission.
Thanks to the incredible success of these pieces, OneCollection now expertly crafts more than 40 Finn Juhl designs under House of Finn Juhl, an entity entirely dedicated to Juhl’s iconic designs.