Images courtesy of The Modern Warehouse
The Borge Mogensen sofa: a potted history
Borge Mogensen’s classic Danish sofa will be pretty familiar to those of you who love Scandanavian mid century design. It’s not an item for the train spotters amongst us, it’s not usually the topic of lively debate between classic design aficionados, nor is it high on the list when it comes to the mid century collectors out there. It is however the embodiment of Danish design of the period.
Like many of the great Danes of furniture design, Mogensen began as a cabinetmaker, trained as a furniture designer and became an architect. Many of his successful designs reflect this training but none more so than the ubiquitous sofa (model 2212/3) designed in 1962. The sheer quality of the sofa, made from solid oak, teak or walnut, upholstered with wonderful high-grade analine leather filled with goose down, reflects the cabinetmaker’s respect for working with the best in raw materials. The generous seat and high sides make for a super comfortable place to just rest your legs for a while or relax for a whole evening. However, it is in the carefully calculated proportions of the sofa where Borge Mogensen really triumphs.
The Borge Mogensen sofa is large but elegant; it has quite a masculine aesthetic, but with a lightness that makes it appear to float from a distance. It’s so simple that it will blend in with any interior, but at the same time it has a strong presence. In fact it becomes less an accessory and more integral to any room it graces. In this piece of furniture, Borge Mogensen created a timeless classic.
Buying a Borge Mogensen sofa: tips from mid century expert David Tatham of The Modern Warehouse
Which companies manufactured the Borge Mogensen sofa?
The only company to produce the original Borge Mogensen sofa was and still is Fredericia Stolefabrik in Denmark. Borge Mogensen worked for the firm as their sole designer from 1955 until his untimely death in 1972. Over time the materials they used changed, but Fredericia Stolefabrik always used the best and this is what stands out. Out of the countless other companies who have produced similar versions of the Borge Mogensen sofa, the two that really stand out are those by Stouby and Mogens Hansen. Both versions are noteworthy for their build quality and use of good raw materials, but they are not in the same league as the original Borge Mogensen sofa. They don’t command anything like the ticket price either, so it’s a case of getting what you pay for.
What materials is the Borge Mogensen sofa made from?
An original Borge Mogensen sofa is 220cm in length with solid hardwood legs usually in teak, oak or walnut. The leather upholstery normally comes in black, brown or cognac and the beautiful leather piping features all the way around the base of the sofa. The backing of the heavy goose down cushions is lined with a thick linen type fabric.
What potential pitfalls should a buyer look out for when purchasing a Borge Mogensen sofa?
The main thing here is making sure that you are buying what you think you are buying. There are many versions of the Borge Mogensen sofa out there, which can complicate things when you are only in the market for the real McCoy. Since the 1960s various Danish furniture manufacturers have produced sofas in a very similar style to Borge Mogensen’s classic. Some are better than others. Dealers should always refer to similar sofas as ‘Mogensen style’. For the real thing, look out for the words ’Fredericia Stolefabrik, Denmark’, the original manufacturer.
How concerned should a buyer be about the condition of a Borge Mogensen sofa?
The condition of the Borge Mogensen sofa is vital. Anything with tears, unsightly scuffs or heavy grease marks should be avoided. Nice, warm ‘lived in’ patina is good – think of your favourite pair of jeans or leather jacket: wear is nice, damage is not.
When is it worth paying a lot for a Borge Mogensen sofa?
As with any vintage furniture, condition is vital when considering the price. It is worth paying top dollar for an original Borge Mogensen sofa that is in fine condition with lovely warm patina but no damage. This Borge Mogensen sofa is a ‘high ticket’ item so I would always maintain that it’s best to find a good one and not to consider examples in poor condition, even if the price is tempting. Similar sofas by Stouby or Mogens Hansen are available at a fraction of the price and if in good condition, represent excellent value for money.
Does the Borge Mogensen sofa make a good long-term investment?
The Borge Mogensen sofa makes for a fantastic investment when compared to contemporary sofas. They are very well constructed and get better with age, so will be with you for the long haul. New upholstery will significantly alter the value though. Getting a financial return is another matter. Historically prices have risen for these pieces, but I would recommend buying one to use, rather than to simply display – remember we are talking about a sofa, not a piece of art!
How easy is it to get hold of a Borge Mogensen sofa?
The Borge Mogensen sofa is not that easy to find – examples by Stouby and Mogens Hansen are a lot easier to come by and are worth considering if you’re on a tighter budget. We always have a selection of designs by Stouby and Mogens Hansen in our showroom and usually have one or two examples of the real thing in stock. It is interesting to compare them side-by-side and good to have the option of going that extra mile!
For more on buying a Borge Mogensen sofa, see Buyer’s Guide: The classic Danish sofa designed by Borge Mogensen in MidCentury 02
See our Directory for a comprehensive list of mid century furniture dealers