In a New York auction of Phillips in 2014 this chair designed in 1959 for Carlo Mollino’s office at the Facoltà di Architettura, Politecnico di Torino and Produced by Apelli & Varesio, was sold for a whopping $758,500.
What makes this object so special?
It is necessary to clarify that Mollino was not an industrial designer; he was not interested in designing objects for industrial production, which would require compromising the object in order to keep down production costs, to allow for mass production, for packaging, and so forth. Mollino’s furniture is unique and was expensively handmade by extraordinarily talented cabinetmakers with a very specific method, described by one of his students:
“Mollino used to shape an idea and make a technical drawing, specifying the construction method and adding notes on various aspects. I used to pick up these drawings from his studio and with Apelli convert it on a 1:1 scale on spolvero paper. Mollino used to come (running like a fawn), to check, review, amend, and then approve or redesign with a graphite pencil. Production was next. Hard times for the craftsman…”1
As illustrated in the Polaroids which appear here, Mollino makes visible, with an immediate photographic representation, how he intends the chair to be a synthesis of the female body’s perfection of beauty and sensuality, represented by the chair’s physiognomy, which alludes to the female form. On the other hand this chair is formally perfect: it is well-planted to the ground; the back is segmented to account for the human backbone; and the seat, modeled to be as comfortable as possible, is functional and ergonomic.
This chair embodies and testifies to the history of human tradition. Mollino had a strong knowledge of ancient history and culture and was able to penetrate to the essence of objects. It is from the Alps tradition that Mollino deduced the structure of his chair: comparing this example with a traditional 19th-century Alpine chair, from which Mollino took his inspiration, it is clear that the two share the same height, the same inclination to back and legs, the same simple and perfect technique used to mount the back, the same seat and legs that give this chair an incredible structure. It is a refined and functional elegance, the work of an engineer.
Freya Lounge is also rooted in classic Danish furniture design. The chair appears modern with its dynamic lines and elegant profile. The composition is simple and well thought through, and at the same time optimized to a modern furniture production. Its lower height and wide seat combined with the lounge slope gives the chair great seating comfort. Combined with the simple and beautiful design it is suitable for a large variety of areas such as lounges and lobbies. With its lounge version the Freya line has been extended to be used in a variety of areas, keeping the same design expression. Freya Lounge is available all in wood, with seat and back in 10 beautiful linoleum colours or upholstered as well as in combinations of these surfaces.
About Says Who:
We are Nikolaj and Kasper. We are Says Who Design. We are both designers, and we work together for furniture manufactures and brands. Our style is rooted in the great traditions of Scandinavian design, and its love for simplicity, minimalism and functionality. We are part of the movement of New Scandinavian Design. On one hand we respect our design heritage, and on the other hand, we reinvent it to fit into our present time.
On occasion of the 60th anniversary of the Spanish Chair by Børge Mogensen, Fredericia launches a special edition in solid oak combined with
an elegant Olive Green saddle leather. To honour Børge Mogensen’s work, Fredericia searched the master’s archive and discovered this subtle, natural colour, which was one of his most loved hues and one of the dominating interior colours at the time.
Now, and for the first time ever, the Spanish Chair is available in this modern mid-century color marking 60 years of impeccable craftsmanship and cutting edge design.
Available for a short period only: 19 September – 31 December 2018 The Spanish Chair 60 years special edition is available from 19 September, which is the exact day when the chair originally was presented to the world in 1958 as part of the yearly exhibition curated by Copenhagen Cabinetmakers’ Guild.
To celebrate this special anniversary, Fredericia invited Børge Mogensen’s grandson, renowned fashion photographer Rasmus Mogensen, to portrait himself with the masterpiece created by his granddad in 1958.
Give us a few highlights about yourself – what do you do, where do you live etc.?
I’ve lived in Paris since I was 21 years old so a total of 23 years so far. I dreamt of becoming a photographer ever since I was eight years old and did photography at school. I don’t believe that I have a special talent, but I’ve just been able to work my way up to a certain level. Because of my Danish cultural heritage, I’ve had a certain style that I’ve carried with me. Whether that’s good or bad is for others to say. A cultural heritage like that can also be a millstone around your neck when you think you know what’s beautiful and what’s ugly.This is something that I’m struggling with a great deal at the moment. To avoid being a perfectionist in a world which is so obviously not perfect and make room for some heart, for chaos.I grew up in a fairly chaotic family and as a boy I enjoyed having a framework into which I could put the world; putting things in order, straight lines, clean compositions etc.
One morning about eight years ago, one of my assistants told me that he’d reviewed hundreds of my photos and there was not a single horizontal or vertical line that was not dead straight to the millimetre and completely parallel to the edge of the image, not one. This observation came back to me when I saw a film about Børge Mogensen in which his obsessive approach to what I’ve always believed to be a very simple chair – the J 39 – became clear. His perfectionist obsession with a simplistic overall look, the fine details, the perfectly conceived angles etc. both drove and exhausted him.
Just then I felt a special bond with Børge, even a kind of curse. This deep-felt need for absolute simplicity and an idea of creating something perfect. I’m pretty sure that this persistent quest for something which basically doesn’t exist here on Earth has been a contributing factor to my grandfather’s frustration and ferocity.
What impact has Børge Mogensen had on your life – both personally and professionally?
I feel that Børge and everything he achieved affects many generations in a family for good and bad. Without going into too much
detail, let’s just say that with his genius came some darkness and this darkness also affected my life in many ways. But Børge
also added much that was beautiful, a great deal of culture and a great deal of quality.
Børge Mogensen’s designs are characterised by functionality, clean lines and natural materials – and always take their starting point in the whole person. How do you relate to it in your job?
My job, or rather my passion, is to create illusions, to create a reality on paper which doesn’t necessarily exist. To give my views on what’s in front of my camera, be it a beautiful woman, a child, a chair, anything. Børge’s job, or passion, was to create something very specific on the basis of something that originated in his mind. The difference between his and my work is that in what I do, you have to ‘just’ look while Børge’s products need to be looked at and actually used, sat on, eaten at, moved around.
Two very different things and still the same in many ways.
What role does design play in your everyday life?
Design plays an important role in my daily life. I love going home and using my home, sitting in my furniture, letting my hand
glide over the wooden top of my dining table and enjoying the thought that it stood there long before I was born and will still be
here long after I’ve gone if I treat it well. Quality has to go hand in hand with design for everything to make sense. This is the
case in the works of most of the great Danish masters. That is something you can only be proud of.
How have you designed your home?
We live in a house south of Paris which we have designed in an eclectic style with inspiration from Scandinavia, France and the United States. The floors are partly covered in oak herringbone parquet and partly in tiles à la Versailles in the hallway and tiles à la Miami Beach in the conservatory.
The walls in the house are painted in matt colours from Farrow and Ball in different shades of blue and white which create a bright and welcoming atmosphere and extend from the hallway to the bedrooms and on to the kitchen and all the way out into the conservatory. The white walls in the house will probably end up being hidden behind various wallpapers, but we’re going to live with it for a while and let things develop slowly and organically.
Otherwise, our home is decorated with Børge’s No1 sofa in blue, a set of Spanish Chairs in natural leather and other Danish classics. All in an eclectic mixture with a few Ikea cabinets and a bed or two.
The Spanish Chair celebrates his 60th anniversary this year – what would you like to say about it on this occasion?
The Spanish Chair arouses a great many fond memories from my own home, but also from numerous visits to my grandmother’s house. The Spanish Chair has always stood here and every time I sat in it, I thought about Børge, his elevated ideals and how important using his work to make others happy was to him. In addition to being beautiful and different to many other chairs, it is also incredibly comfortable and practical – there was always space on the armrest for a glass of apple juice
and a small plate of something tasty.
I was very surprised at the anniversary chair when I saw it and I think it’s really beautiful. The light wood and the green leather
are really harmonious and modern.
The Spanish Chair is what it is. I love the way in which the leather is stretched on like a saddle and I love to hate its squeaking when I meditate in it in the morning. But what I love most about it is that it lasts forever, and that my children’s children and their hildren will one day be able to enjoy it.
What memories do you have of the Spanish Chair and other Børge Mogensen furniture designs?
Børge Mogensen’s Spoke-back sofa was used for much more than just sitting in! We would turn it to the wall and it immediately became a prison in the game we were playing. Or we would put the side panel right down to the floor to make it into a kind of ramp – I remember cycling up it on my bike (but my mother did draw the line there). The sofa is still there and is yet another testament to the very high quality of my grandfather’s furniture as it has survived both my sister and me and several generations
of my grandmother’s dogs who were all – bizarrely enough – called Sniff.