The name ”Chieftain” is said to come from Juhl's intention to dedicate the armchair to King Fredrik IX. However, he later came to show the armchair together with African sculptures, thus referring to the rich culture of the African continent.
Finn Juhl is considered to be one of the most influential Danish designers in modern Danish furniture design. The Chieftain is largely considered one of Juhl's absolute masterpiece.
Juhl was strongly inspired by contemporary sculpture from artists such as Jean Arp, of whom Juhl had works of his own at home. Juhl's organic design often tended to what was reasonable or possible in terms of craftsmanship. It was through contact with the master carpenter Niels Vodder that Juhl was given the opportunity to see his advanced ideas realized, thus Vodder held an important role early on in Juhl's success. Vodder's skill allowed Juhl to find the perfect balance between stability and graceful sculptural forms.
Juhl also wanted to create a visual difference between the structural maintaining elements and the surface that carried the seated individual – he wanted the seated individual to appear as hovering above the chair's frames. The Chieftain was one of the first pieces of furniture to which these principles were applied. Despite its advanced form, Juhl is said to have stated the sketch for the Cheiftain came about in a relatively short amount of time. Finn Juhl presented the armchair in 1949 at Snedkerlauget's annual exhibition in Copenhagen. The model has since been slightly modified in the first years after the first copies were presented.
In 2012, the Chieftain was rewarded with the Danish Design Award, Classic, with the motivation that it now stands as an inspiration to a new generation of designers. By attaching great importance to quality and craftsmanship, as well as by breaking from traditions, one can truly make a difference as a designer.
This copy in teak and natural brown leather is made by master carpenter Niels Vodder in the 1950’s, and has been in the same family since the early 1960’s. Details of this Chieftain indicate that it should have been made sometime between 1952–55.
The iconic chair will be sold at Bukowskis’
Modern Art + Design on June 16
Estimate: 600 000 – 800.000 SEK
Bukowskis sees a great demand for modern design. Contact our specialists today to become part of a fantastic auction and sell at the highest prices in the market.