Choices abound when selecting furniture; from the style to the age, from the color to the size, considerations of practicality versus appearance; and the choices become even more numerous when selecting a piece of furniture as ubiquitous and varied as a chair. Danish chairs have become one of the more easily recognized styles as well as one of the most popular.
They first became a favorite in the 1940s, soon after their development. Their popularity lasted through the 1950s and 60s, when they became something of a cliché due to their image as the most to-date contemporary furnishing in American homes; and are now making a comeback.
Danish modern chairs have several distinctive characteristics that even untrained eyes can easily distinguish. The Danish style avoids hard lines and geometric shapes, tending instead to graceful ergonomic curves that fit the body naturally.
Danish chairs usually are made of lightwood, although darker pieces were later produced at the wish of consumers. Often the wood used is birch, oak, ash, or beech; their clean lines are usually devoid of extra adornment, finished with oil or wax.
For fabric, natural colors with texture are the norm, and any patterning is minimalist. Another distinctive feature of Danish modern style is the open space left underneath its chairs and couches; long legs support them, not the short legs that are common elsewhere, leaving little to no space between furniture and floor.
The name Danish modern is somewhat inaccurate, as the designers responsible for its style came from all over Scandinavia. The style applies not only to furniture but also more broadly to a school of functional design and architecture.
Simplicity and a focus of function were united in the design of buildings such as the Sydney Opera House, household objects, and new, distinctive chairs such as the egg chair. Arne Jacobsen is famous Ant Chair, an unusual three-legged chair with a thin waist between rounded seat and back, was also a product of the developing style.
A buyer interested in true vintage Danish modern chairs will be wise to pay close attention to details. Their popularity and respectable price make it profitable for cheap substitutes, of shoddy construction and materials, to be sold at too good to be true prices.
Unwary buyers can be too distracted by prices to notice deficiencies. Be aware of the quality of the wood joins, the sturdiness of the cloth. Look also at the stitching for any dangling threads, for unevenness, for bunching of the material.
These factors do not apply only to armchairs but to the Danish dining chair as well. Styles of dining chairs are distinctive to their regions of origin.
They range from the legless chairs of Japan, the heavy opulent antique chairs of Spain and the simpler straight modern chairs of that same country, the casual rattan style common to the coastal United States and the country and colonial chairs of its rural regions.
Danish dining chairs tend to stand out among them with their typically smaller scale, made in the same light woods as the Danish modern living room chairs, with the same body-conforming curves and comfort.