My brush with Arne Vodder

I have been searching for the last 6 months tyring to track down Arne Vodder. I somehow ended up at a website for a small manufacturer on the west, a company called Nielius. They manufacture a sofa by Arne Vodder. We contacted them and asked if they were in touch with him, they were and I asked if it would be possible to meet the great man. Nielius informed us that Arne Vodder had nearly died in January and was still quite unwell, but they would mention our interest. So we waited.

Luckily Arne Vodder was feeling a great deal better and would be interested in meeting us for coffee, as I was travelling with our resident Dane, Jytte and felt it would be a great opportunity to have a Danish national with me, as it is difficult to know how comfortable Arne Vodder might be with English. Of course it was perfect.

I have to admit I was quite nervous to be meeting him and felt myself getting anxious, like a kid on my first day of school; butterflies. It was something special, a feeling as a grown up we don’t get to experience as much as we would like.

Arne Vodder was charming and his English was perfect. He had very kindly brought along some copies of his works and an old Sibast catalogue (one of the manufacturers), which was great. We talked of what he designed and who he worked with.

It came to light that Arne Vodder had studied under Finn Juhl! I delicately asked if Juhl was his inspiration for his use of colour, he replied with a smile; “Yes, it was Finn Juhl”. He talked extensively of the office series he did, which was widely sold into the USA for banks, I can only imagine how fantastic those banks would have looked in their day.

I asked Arne if he was working with anyone else, as we really loved his cabinets and would be thrilled to find someone who might be reproducing it again. I was very excited when he mentioned he was working with a small cabinet maker who was looking at reproducing the cabinet series.

The Vodder designs are unbelievably modern, using a combination of wood, metal and colour, the proportions are exact and combined with the materials, provides a resolved cabinet that cannot be improved upon.
I am constantly impressed by these guys. Amazing that 50 years ago they were coming up with this kind of design, it is truly inspiring and humbling at the same time to have the privilege to work with this product and have the opportunity to meet someone who I believe has had such a significant influence on design today.

It became clear to me that this humble man did not consider himself important or significant, he was simply doing what came to him naturally, this was a really rare experience, to meet someone so humble and so accomplished.

We talked of other designers and makers and we came to be talking of a company Montana (still around today) and their work with Fritz Hansen. Arne Vodder talked of someone in the Montana wanting to make plastic wall systems (Montana made and still makes very high quality wall systems today), he mentioned they were making this plastic system, but due to the material, plastic, there could be a 3mm variation., Arne Vodder smiled at this point, not a big smile but a smile of someone who new exactly what he was leading up to, and was having a chuckle to himself, then he said; “This guy had contracted pantonidies, the disease of Verner Panton, everything in plastic!”’ then he broke into laughter.

He had obviously told this story before. This story was as much about the joke as it was about the integrity, exactness and attention to detail that most of the designers expected of themselves and their manufacturers.

I really felt a great privilege to have met him and I really hope that if his storage range does go back into production and is done with the same integrity and belief that they obviously put into their products all those years ago.

We will keep you posted re development with this project.

I also asked for his signature and photo with him, I think he was quite chuffed about this also, a very charming man.

1 comment:

mexicantof said...

hi, glad to read your review of your meeting with the great creator Arne Vodder; I personnaly own a large rosewood office desk and cabinet circa 1955 (Sibast) in mint condition, and I was desperately trying to find information about his work.
all the best from France!