Arne & Anton

I spent the day today with Arne Vodder, we met at the train station with Kim from Nielaeus, a small manufacturer, who has dealt with Arne for many years. Kim is the son of the founder and now works very closely with Arne in regards to some of his later work, especially contract furniture.

Kim and Arne and I had lunch together at the local golf club and enjoyed a glass of wine whilst discussing some of the goings on with the cabinet maker. When we met Daniel he mentioned through Kim’s translation he had been working on the cabinets until very early in the morning to have them prepared for Arne and myslef to look at!

We arrived at Daniel’s workshop, to see 3 really fantastic samples of Arne's cabinets, one in Oak, one in Walnut and one in Wenge. Arne and I looked at them and spent the next hours discussing the cabinets in great detail. This was a very special moment, as I truly felt involved in the process, as it should be (Arne kindly pointed out), the designer, the cabinet maker and the seller, all in one place to discuss the product and ensure that we all ended up with something that works.

Arne asked me how important is it that we are true to the original design, I replied very important, as long as it didn’t effect the integrity of the product in regards to its production. Both Arne and I felt the straight metal/wooden leg and the slight softness of the edge of the cabinet, were very important aspects of the design, which the cabinet maker had changed ever so slightly, so it was agreed to be changed back.

We also agreed that the colours doors should be same as the original for the walnut, but perhaps for the oak, we should look at some of Finn Juhl's colours from the period, as they would fit well with the oak. Both Arne and I talked about a Finn Juhl blue, which we both felt would work really well with the sideboard. Arne actually studied under Finn Juhl and was a very good friend of his. Finn Juhl, along with Arne were the 2 designers from the period that took the risk of putting colour with wood.

This day was a culmination of years of thinking how it would feel to be actually working with one of Denmark's great designers, and will always hold a very special place in my heart.

Arne and I then spent a very chatty 4 hours hours on the train back to Copenhagen talking about designers of today, laughing about stories from when he was working in the 50’s ad 60’s. Arne talked about how he ran his own office with another desigener named Anton (odd really) for many years, and how they used to tell the staff they were going to a meeting in CPH, but actually went out sailng for the afternoon. The Danes really are good at appreciating life's small miracles.

I look forward to catching up with him again soon.

The History of Moller

Had a meeting with Snerkergaarden, they make Nanna Ditzel Easy Chairs which we love and are planning to have by the end of this year. Surprisingly, only because they seemed quite old school they had some really outstanding designs, one by an old guy who also works with Frederica and a young guy apparently about 30, and the table the young guy designed was fantastic, quite modern, but all wood and with some really beautiful details, it really reminded me of some of Haslev's work, but with a bit more of an edge to it.

The factory has been around I think since about 1905, and mainly focuses on the cabinet making, and really lovely work made all with solid wood.

Then we drove to Moller to pick up a chair to see if it would work with another new table that is being made by Axel Kirsko. We bumped into John Moller, the son of Niels Moller, the grandson of J.L Moller. He was a real character and we just couldnt stop him reminiscing about his childhood and the history of Moller.

The factory was started by his grandfather before WWII, around 1930’s in typical Danish style, he made a piece of furniture for himself and then the neighbor asked him to make one for him. It grew to 8 people, but unfortunately he had passed away and left the company to his wife, who had no experience. The Foreman was left to run the company, who unfortunately was taking her for a ride and then the war came and the company collapsed and she bought back the shares that had been sold to the foreman.

Then it was Nils Moller who started it again. He was a cabinet maker and worked in the UK for a while and then studied in Orhus. He then started designing. I asked Jorn where his inspiration came from and it was mainly from jewelry in Museums. He would drag Jorn around to the Museums on the weekends and would finD forms and shapes in the jewellery that appealed to him.

Having known this for the first time, I can see the inspiration, especially as his chairs are so organic and certainly have a fine delicate nature that you see in jewelry. He designed the 71 in the late 30’s and Jorn said his dad would design then work with the makers and then would put the chair away for a year to let it rest, so he could look at it with fresh eyes. He would do this 4-5 times so it would take 5 years for every new design. Now that is how to resolve something!

Jorn and his friends were roped into working at the factory, putting on the metal stamps that are on all the old versions, he said he was paid less than 1 cent per piece. There was a guy there who I have seen every time I go to the factory, I always wondered how old he was, 73 and had worked for more than 40 years at the factory papercording. He was a charming old guy and remembered when Jorn was a boy.

Jorn showed us through the factory, and though I had been through before with the manager Morten, is always interesting to see it from the owners point of view.

Copenhagen Feeling

I arrived this morning in Copenhagen, after not being here for quite a while. As soon as I stepped through the plane door the smell of CPH was there. If only I could bottle that first smell, grasp it and hold onto that feeling, its crispness and warmth at the same time.

I have forgotten how important it is for me to feel connected to this place as the soul of our business, I had forgotten how much I consciously and sub consciously grab onto it and bring back with me every time I come here.

I stay at Hotel Guldsmeden. Ironically it has not a single piece of Danish furniture in it, yet I feel it is the warmest, coziest place I can stay when I am here. Maybe it is because my wife Emma found it and we both stayed here together first. It was when she was pregnant with our daughter Persia, perhaps this is part of the reason I feel so good here. I feel they are both with me in some way.

I am jetlagged, but there is little point in sleeping, as it is 7pm at home, I try to stay awake for the day if I can. Breakfast; the almonds covered in honey, yoghurt and muesli, the fresh breads, dark rye, light rye, pumpernickel, white crusty, stewed blueberries, bad coffee!, wonderful pastries, smelly cheeses, all make up a breakfast. I sit and look out the window and feel very much at home, a young family sits near me with a baby and it feels right. This place is such a wonderful mix of old world values.

Looking out the window, surrounded by all this history and a really lovely warm sense of belonging, I feel at home. I look forward to my stroll down the walking streets, as I watch the city come alive on a Sunday morning. It is cold but clear, the city is a really beautiful place at this time of year, I will head straight for Illums to get my fix of a ‘klassic’ department store, I can only compare it to a combination of ‘Are You Being Served’ and Georges (Melb), It stands next to Georg Jensen and in front of a beautiful fountain, and on Sunday it will become full of tourists and families exploring the shops and sitting on benches and soaking up the sun, while enjoying a good Danish hotdog!

I guess I feel as if this is what I am trying to bring to our showrooms, I want our customers, to come in and feel at home, to experience all their senses being tickled, to gain some sense of what I feel when I am in Denmark.