The Chieftain Chair is one of Finn Juhl’s absolute masterpieces, representing the peak of his career as a furniture designer. At its introduction in 1949, the chair marked a renewal of the Danish furniture design tradition and today it is seen as one of the most important exponents of the Danish Modern movement in the USA in the 1950’s. For this reason, Finn Juhl is often seen as one of the fathers of Danish Modern design.
Inspired by modern art, the Chieftain Chair with its organic shapes liberated itself from traditional Danish furniture design and strict functionalism in both shape, construction and materials.
In 2012, the Chieftain Chair won the Danish Design Award Classic. The jury said in its motivation:” Today, the Chieftain Chair stands as an inspiration to a new generation of furniture designers and as proof that an attention to quality, international calibre and a will to break away from tradition can pave the road to making a difference as a designer”.
Finn Juhl reached his absolute peak as a pioneering furniture designer with the imposing Chieftain Chair at the 1949 Guild Exhibition. The chair is probably the most well known of all his chairs and a powerful design, which not only dominates in size and extravagance, but which also needs a lot of space around it to do itself justice. It is in true a proper Chieftain and it is with good reason it has been called an icon of Danish furniture design.
Finn Juhl was however quite modest about the development process of the chair, and did not have any expectations of its greatness. Finn Juhl tells:
“I started drawing the Chieftain Chair one day in the spring 1949. I was at home, and I started drawing around 10 am with a five cm sketch – just four vertical lines connected with ‘something’ and by two or three o’clock in the morning I had painted it. But in reality I don’t know how long it took me to design that chair. Perhaps I had a vague idea for some time that I wanted to design something bigger. There had been so many small, handy chairs, so I probably felt like designing something a bit more pompous...”
1949, Relaunched 2002
Frame: Walnut, teak
Size: H 92,5cm x W 100cm x D 88cm
Seat Hight: 34,5cm