In May 2015, Parisian auction house Artcurial will, for the first time, offer a sale dedicated exclusively to Scandinavian furniture design. It is with the help of Collector Aldric Speer, currently a consultant with Artcurial’s Design department, that a hundred or so carefully selected pieces will be offered at auction.
We asked Aldric Speer to share his insights into the Scandinavian design market and give us an indication of what we can expect to see in the sale.
Aldric Speer © Sisters Agency
On Scandinavian furniture design
What first drew you to Scandinavian furniture design and what is your most treasured piece?
I have been collecting Scandinavian design for the last 18 years from auctions across the world. My wife is Swedish and, as a young collector in my twenties, she first introduced me to Scandinavian design as she shared her cultural heritage with me. I am most attached to some of the pieces I purchased at the beginning of my journey. These are the items I am still living with; they have huge sentimental value for me. The first chair I purchased was the ‘Peacock Chair’ by Danish designer Hans J Wegner.
Bone Chair, Finn Juhl, 1944 © ARTCURIAL
What trends have you observed in the sale of mid-century Scandinavian furniture over the past decade?
Over the last five years, Scandinavian furniture has become central to the aesthetic of some of the biggest names in interior design and this has increased demand for the highest quality Scandinavian pieces on the international market. With increased interest in Danish design, there is higher demand for the work of Poul Kjaerholm, whose functional ethos championed a very architectural design aesthetic, using materials such as steel and glass to create a minimalistic silhouette. The organic designs of Finn Juhl are now also highly sought after. It was Finn Juhl in the 1940s who championed form, adding a more sculptural quality to the functionalism that had come before. With the resurgence in popularity of sheepskin, the work of Danish designer, Philip Arctander, who pioneered this style in the 1940s, is now much sought after.
Chieftain chair, Finn Juhl, 1949 © ARTCURIAL
Can you give us a flavour of some of the pieces we can expect to see in Artcurial’s Scandinavian furniture sale?
We have over 100 carefully selected lots in the sale from across the Nordic regions. Of particular note is Finn Juhl’s ‘Chieftain Chair’, which is from the first edition and which still has the original leather in cognac. This is quite simply regarded as the most treasured piece of Scandinavian design and it is rarely seen at auction on the international market. 78 pieces were made in the original edition and these items are now either in museums or were bought by the Danish government to furnish their embassy buildings. Nowadays there are only 20-30 Chieftain chairs left in the world. We also have a set of 12 Erik Wortz’s chairs from a private Parisian collection – it is rare to see all 12 chairs together at auction – as well as some unusual pieces by Poul Kjaerholm, including a marble top table and two sets of chairs.
Chair by Niels O Moller in rosewood, 1960 © ARTCURIAL
What do you think it is about Scandinavian furniture design that gives it such a wide international appreciation?
The key to Scandinavian design is that the quality of materials and craftsmanship speaks for itself. Its efficiency of form gives Scandinavian design a timeless quality that translates across the world. Perhaps most importantly, Scandinavian design brings with it a beauty and quality that you want to live with in your home.
The Scandinavian Design sale takes place on 20 May 2015 – bids can be placed online via the link below.
Sleigh chair, Børge Mogensen, 1953 © ARTCURIAL
For more on the Scandinavian Design sale, click here
The Scandinavian Design sale catalogue is available to view here
Register here to bid live in the sale
Read our article on Finn Juhl’s home
Read more about Scandinavian design in the salesroom in our interview with firstdibs founder Michael Bruno