Denmark has had some interesting footnotes throughout history. Their pastry benefited from a strike by bakery workers in 1850. This forced Danish bakeries to hire foreign bakers with many arriving from Austria. The Austrians influenced their baking with new recipes and traditions. Danish bakers soon adopted Austrian recipes and added more eggs and fat.
In the mid-20th century, Denmark developed functional design and architecture. Danish designers combined simplicity and functionality in furniture and household items. Influenced by Germany’s Bauhaus school, the designers adopted new industrial technologies.
Table of Contents
- Notable Danish Design Examples
- Danish Design Influence
- Danish-Inspired Mid-Century Modern Coffee Tables: Made in America
- The Collectible
Notable Danish Design Examples
Danish design has notable design footnotes which incorporate state-of-the-art or then-current materials.
- In 1959, Arne Jacobsen designed the Egg chair for the Radisson SAS Hotel in Copenhagen. Since then, modern variations of this popular Danish design appear in modern furniture
- Arne Jacobsen would also design the Ant Chair, the first industrially-manufactured chair
- The PH-lamp are light fixtures designed by writer and design, Poul Henningsen. Their design only releases reflected light to reduce glare. How? Through the use of several concentric shade
- The Sydney Opera House is a design from Danish architect Jorn Utzon
- Shaker stripped-down chairs and furniture have become known worldwide with Danish design influences
Danish Design Influence
After World War 2, Denmark’s late industrial production benefited from its high-quality craftsmanship. The country also supported freedom of individual expression. Europe would soon embrace novel approaches such as Danish light wood furniture.
Denmark would establish the Furniture School at the Royal Danish Academy of Art. This accelerated Denmark’s role in furniture design. In the early 1950s, American design would include Danish influences in its furniture.
Danish designers have gained worldwide respect for high-quality furniture. Their designs gained inspiration from nature through wood use. Limited natural resources also forced Nordic/Scandinavian design to adopt the natural world.
Danish-Inspired Mid-Century Modern Coffee Tables: Made in America
A Mostly Modern Feel based in Brevard, North Carolina has developed a name for itself. Daniel Anderson calls himself a one-man fine furniture business. Passionate he is!
Daniel has the passion and vision to incorporate Danish-inspired design into his products. Using solid wood, he’s proven that American design can incorporate accented Danish cues.
Daniel takes pleasure in his work. He selects top-grade lumber and handpicks every board used. That’s a personal touch!
Noll Wide Body Danish Surfboard Coffee Table
This mid-century modern coffee table is available in walnut. The design is impeccable! This is built to order with projected times usually about four weeks but could take as long as five to six weeks.
This fits perfectly with many modern and contemporary interiors. It would be a perfect match for the natural color on your backyard deck to serve up coffee, drinks, and snacks.
You can order this coffee table with a base of rounded or squared edges and with or without slats. The legs and top are hand-shaped (we love this!) in shapes not achievable through machines.
The Noll has the following dimensions: 16 inches (height), 48 inches (width), and 16.5 inches (depth). The ends taper to 12.5 inches.
The solid walnut finish is from a hand-rubbed oil/varnish blend to maintain a fresh look.
An authentic coffee table screams from clean lines and beveled edges made with hands. There’s something about that personal touch during the creation process.
It is well-made but should not act as a footstool or unit to hold heavier items. Useful for coffee or drinks, it may be more useful as an appreciated living room staple. Add some smaller-framed family photos and styled wooden or clay vases.
This table is well worth the price. It’s hand-made. Real wood. Authentic. The table itself arrives in 2 pieces: the top and the legs. Its design tops simplicity with only four screws to secure into pre-drilled holes. Eat your heart out IKEA.
Spicoli Danish Surfboard Coffee Table
Daniel has created another Danish-inspired coffee table. This model comes in three colors: Cherry, Hard Maple, and Walnut.
The difference? The Spicoli coffee table ends taper to 10.5 inches versus 12.5 inches with the Noll wide-body coffee table. The dimensions are the same at 16 inches (height), 48 inches (width), and 16.5 inches (depth).
Customers have reported the pictures do not do give proper credit to the designer. Even with real wood construction, either table is light enough to carry or move around.
If you’re like us, we love furniture that is clean and understated. Modern decor should not be an eye-sore when added but a natural integration into your styling.
Many furniture buyers may think wood veneer is of low quality and consider it a bad design. High-end Danish furniture uses teak or rosewood veneer. They add this to wood-like pine, plywood, or wood composite material. It’s a layer of thin, real wood.
Mid-century American furniture has done similar with real walnut wood veneer too. Marketing machines have convinced us that in all cases, solid wood means quality. It can, but it doesn’t have to since designers have adopted modern techniques for quality.
If you go the vintage route, your local haunt may have mid-century modern coffee tables. Seek “Made in Denmark” as Danish-inspired furniture is in high demand. Other choices include Norway, Sweden, Finland, Iceland, and Italy. America is in love with mid-century modern vintage!
The Danish made a lot of “junk” with teak in the 1980s and 1990s. It may look Danish but if it says “Made in Yugoslavia”, please avoid it. Knock-offs were common from the former Yugoslavia, Thailand, and Indonesia. Why? These areas were abundant in teak wood. Manufactured to “look” Danish without the Danish-inspired designer.
What you choose in the end depends on your pocketbook and personal preference. A talking point is always better from a uniquely designed home decor item that is rare.
In Daniel’s case from A Mostly Modern Feel, it is not considered a “knock-off” because he designs each table. His mid-century modern coffee tables are handcrafted versus machine-designed. Further, he selects the wood. There is no room for cheap character!
High-end, collectible, modernist furniture by American brands come from a shortlist. Look for Dunbar, Calvin, Thayer, Coggin, Widdicomb, and Directional. Not all will be “collectible” but if you have a keen eye, you’ll find the gems.
You also can’t go wrong with any mid-century modern coffee table from Knoll or Herman Miller.
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John Thompson, Writer and Commentator, EvolutDesign.com
Soldier, writer, researcher, consultant, and bon vivant, John Thompson is the author of numerous columns, op-eds, reports, briefs, short stories and books as the “Felicity Files” and “Spirit Over Steel: A Chronology of the Second World War” (version III). Often found hunched over his computer, or in his garden, and now often found doing both. His diverse talent has led him to work in industries and projects such as energy, security and home construction and renovation.