Vintage Danish modern furniture hails from the Midcentury era when modernism influenced clean, functional furniture designs. Danish furniture in particular was notable for simple, elegant and airy forms and very high quality construction, making pieces in good, usable condition a valuable commodity.
Outside of Denmark, many of the best resources for this style of furniture can be found online.
Danish Teak Classics
Based in Minneapolis, Danish Teak Classics is a small company that specializes in finding and restoring furniture and accessories made during the mid-20th century in Denmark. Company employees make regular trips to Denmark to search for well-preserved classic furniture pieces that are shipped back to the Midwestern warehouse and restored to like-new condition. When you buy a piece of furniture from this company, you can feel confident in getting the real deal. Examples of what you can find include:
- Teak dining, coffee, and end tables
- Sofas and lounge chairs
- Dining chairs
- Sideboards, desks, wall systems, and sewing tables
Choose your pieces carefully, as all sales are final. Danish Teak Classics will not issue a refund on a returned item but if it's in reasonable condition, you can get store credit. If the piece is damaged during shipping, you must report it within 72 hours of receiving it and the return shipping is on you.
Chairish is an online consignment store where you can buy and sell gently used vintage furniture and décor. Listings must be curator-approved before going live on the site. Chairish will only accept pieces that are stylish, in good condition, custom-made or of high quality mid-century modern designer names. Other advantages of shopping at Chairish include:
- Price - Items are listed at 25 to 30% of the estimated retail price.
- Potential for negotations - There's an option to "Make an Offer" and purchase the item at 75% of the asking price, if the seller agrees.
- Return policy - You have 48 hours to inspect the item after delivery and contact support to initiate a return.
- Local pickup option - If the seller lives in your area, you can arrange to pick the item up and eliminate the shipping cost.
At Chairish you can find over 10 pages of the furniture style, including credenzas and sideboards, dining chairs, lounge chairs, sofas, dressers, serving carts, dining tables, occasional tables and more.
Mid Century Mobler
Mid Century Mobler imports vintage Danish modern furniture from the 1950s and 60s found on quarterly buying trips to Denmark, Sweden, and other countries in Europe. You can see this furniture in person at the showroom in Berkeley, California, or purchase it online. Examples of what you will find include:
- Teak armchairs
- Molded plywood chairs
- Wingback and swivel lounge chairs
- Benches and ottomans
- Teak bar carts
- Nesting tables
- Coffee tables
- Rosewood and teak corner cabinets
Detailed pictures and descriptions can help you select the pieces you need. Be sure to check out their sale category to save hundreds on individual furniture pieces. Read the information carefully on the product page, especially the size measurements. All sales are final, so don't hesitate to ask for more information before buying.
Use the "Request Shipping Quote" button on the product page to factor in your shipping costs. If you live in San Francisco, you may qualify for $75 curbside delivery.
Furnish Me Vintage
Furnish Me Vintage is a good resource for this style of furniture for those living near or in St. Petersburg, Florida, and those who shop online. To see their complete inventory, you must visit their expansive three-story showroom. You will also find a large selection of vintage Danish furniture that has been restored to like-new condition online such as:
- Daybed sofa with built-in reversible end tables
- Teak wall units and bookcases
- Teak dining tables and chairs
- Scandinavian leather sling chairs
- Teak china cabinet
You are strongly advised to read the terms of sale before making a purchase. Furnish Me Vintage does not issue refunds, exchanges, credits or returns, nor do they accept cancellations on items awaiting local pickup, delivery, or shipment. All items are shipped with insurance so be sure to initiate a claim with the carrier within 24 to 48 hours if you receive an item that was damaged during shipping.
Whether you're looking to furnish an entire Midcentury style home or just add a few vintage accent pieces to a modern abode, don't forget to check local places like consignment shops, antique furniture boutiques, estate or yard sales, and thrift stores. Nothing beats a first-hand inspection of solid joints and scratch free finishes. You also get a better impression of the furniture's size, being able to measure larger pieces like tables and sofas to ensure they fit the area you plan to put them in.
Vintage remodeler Kimberly Lindbergs points out the comfort factor as well. Her 6'5" tall husband has trouble fitting comfortably in the low profile, sleek furniture designs of the 1950s and 60s. Through local hunts for Midcentury furniture, Mr. Lindberg found this style of furniture to be quite comfortable. It comes as little surprise because the Danes were not only naturally tall, they designed with comfort or function as the primary goal, followed by form. Try out vintage chairs and sofas you intend to use often to see how comfortable they are.
Tips on Collecting Vintage Danish Modern Furniture
The simple, clean lines of the style make it easy to blend and incorporate pieces into contemporary and modern design settings. In fact, Chicago-based dealer of vintage Scandinavian furniture, Andrew Hollingsworth, who also wrote the book Danish Modern, says most of his clients are not serious collectors. They are seeking comfort as well as something different and special that fits well in the trending style of eclectic design.
Most Notable Danish Furniture Design
Hollingsworth indicates the Danish furniture piece with the longest lasting influence on the design world is the chair. Designing a chair that is comfortable for people of different sizes, shapes, and forms can be a complex and difficult task. However, comfort was something that Midcentury Danish furniture designers excelled at. Notable Danish chair designs include:
- Ant Chair by Arne Jacobsen - A single piece of plywood is bent to conform ideally to the body, perfectly supported on three legs.
- Egg Chair by Arne Jacobsen - A sculpted polyurethane shell covered in high quality fabric or leather cradles the body's curves on a base that tilts and swivels.
- Chieftains Chair by Finn Juhl - Made from teak or walnut and leather, this chair contains distinctive shapes inspired by primitive weaponry and the seat appears to be suspended above the frame.
- Barcelona Chair by Kaare Klint -This dining chair featured mahogany wood with leather upholstery and nailhead trim on the seat and back.
- Wishbone Chair by Hans Wegner - Tthis finely sculpted wood chair made from beech, oak or walnut had a shiny lacquer finish and was inspired by portraits of Danish merchants sitting in Ming Chairs.
- Round Chair by Hans Wegner - Superior craftsmanship went in to creating the smooth curves of this minimalist chair design; each crescent shaped arm was carved from a single block of wood and interior mortise-and-tenons discreetly join the arms and legs.
One of the most valuable pieces is the Chieftains Chair by Finn Juhl. According to Hollingsworth, this chair is a favorite of the Japanese who have single-handedly driven up the price. A pair of Chieftains Lounge Chairs selling for $35,000 at 1stDibs is a good indicator of the high value of this vintage design.
To prepare yourself, get familiar with Danish designer names and the types of furniture they designed. Then check the value of specific pieces on sites like 1stDibs or auction house sites to familiarize yourself with the pricing of vintage Scandinavian furniture.
According to Brooklyn vintage furniture store owner Mike Koleman in a piece by Brooklyn Based, a good starter piece should be something large and substantial. A sofa or large credenza that becomes the anchor or focus of the room can then be complemented by additional accent pieces such as chairs, coffee and end tables.
Spotting Authentic Pieces
Three important ways to ensure you are getting authentic vintage Danish furniture include:
- Buy from a reputable dealer - Detailed information should be disclosed in the listing or by the dealer such as the date of manufacture, country of origin (Denmark), designer and manufacturer, and exact dimensions.
- Look for the label - An authentic piece will have a manufacturer's label or branded mark which may also include the designer's signature and a serial number; research authentic labels online so you know what to look for when shopping.
- Construction characteristics - Fine details such as the stitching of the upholstery and finish and grain of the wood and joinery can help you distinguish high-quality authentic pieces from lower quality replicas.
The most expensive vintage pieces are usually the ones signed by the iconic designers and are in pristine condition. According to Andrew Hollingsworth, lesser-known or anonymous furniture makers of the same era produced designer-inspired pieces that were less expensive versions but still of high quality. If you're not investing in a designer brand but still want a quality vintage piece, a lesser-known maker is the way to go.
Greg James, a buyer for The Fabulous Find in Victoria, Canada, recommends Peter Hvidt of the Danish studio Hvidt and Molgaard to The Globe and Mail Readers for high quality teak furniture. Manufacturers in Denmark, such as Fritz Hansen, still produce many of the classic Danish designs which can be helpful if you're needing a larger set such as six Hans Wegner Wishbone chairs for the dining room. Visit Fritz Hansen online to locate a dealer near you.
Enjoy the Hunt
Furniture buyers have rediscovered the high-quality and stylish looks of vintage Danish Modern furniture. Demand is high and the search can be likened to a treasure hunt -- which many collectors find addicting. Good deals can often be found in popular retirement communities such as Palm Springs and Florida, where older generations tend to sell entire collections of Midcentury furniture. Hang out at estate sales, vintage furniture fairs and build a rapport with vintage dealers everywhere you go.