Finn Juhl and Baker
Danish Modernism for Middle America
Baker Furniture, founded in 1890 by Dutch immigrant Siebe Baker just outside of Grand Rapids, Michigan, became a leading voice in mid-century furniture, introducing modernism and a global design sensibility to middle-class Americans. With a shared commitment to quality and craftsmanship, Finn Juhl partnered with Baker in 1951, producing the first line of Danish modern furniture for the American market. Juhl adapted some of the designs he had created with Niels Vodder for a mass-scale production run (changing some of the model numbers) as well as designed new pieces with the modern American home in mind. These designs endure for their classic combination of elegance and livability.
Baker Furniture Library / Finn Juhl Catalog, c. 1951
One cannot create happiness with beautiful objects, but one can spoil quite a lot of happiness with bad ones.
Finn Juhl was a pioneering designer, famed for his organic, sculptural style, as well as a key proponent of bringing mid-century Scandinavian design to the wider world market. Born in Frederiksberg, Denmark in 1912, Juhl’s father was a textile wholesaler who insisted that his son pursue architecture, rather than studying art history, which was his real passion as a young man. In 1930, he enrolled in the Royal Danish Academy of Art’s School of Architecture in Copenhagan.
After graduating in 1934, Juhl went on to work for architect Vilhelm Lauritzen for eleven years. During this time, monumental shifts were taking place in architectural practice and theory; at the time, historicism was still the predominant style, with a surge of Neoclassism beginning around 1910. By the mid-1930s, functionalism had emerged as both a practical and aesthetic style to meet the changing needs of a rapidly modernizing society. Innovative materials and building methods were developed, creating an entirely new architectural language. Juhl worked on The Radio House (Radiohuset) in Copenhagan with Lauritzen, the headquarters of the national Danish broadcast company. Completed in 1945, it is one of the first major works built in Scandinavia in the prevailing functionalist style.
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