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Made for everyday life

Børge Mogensen's J39 Chair, designed in 1947, is revered as a Danish design icon celebrated for its minimalist elegance and robust craftsmanship. Known as the 'People's Chair,' it epitomises democratic design ideals that honour functional and aesthetically pleasing everyday objects. True to Mogensen's vision, it is a chair made to last for generations.

When you look at the J39, you might not see a very elaborate design piece at first sight, but looking closer, you can see how the proportions and the details make up a very considered design.

Rasmus Graversen, CEO and 3rd generation of the Graversen family

A Democratic Approach to Design

In 1941, a young Børge Mogensen (1914-1972) graduated from the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts Furniture School, where he studied under Kaare Klint, often hailed as the father of Danish Design. Klint's approach was characterised by pragmatism, rigour, and a mathematical focus on design, heavily influenced by historical decorative elements. Mogensen embraced these ideals but envisioned a more democratic purpose for design. He aimed to create durable, well-crafted furniture accessible to everyone and built to last for generations.

After graduating, Mogensen expanded on Klint's foundational principles by exploring innovative solutions for mass production. In 1950, he founded his own design firm and soon formed a significant collaboration with young entrepreneur Andreas Graversen, who would eventually become the owner of Fredericia Furniture. This close partnership led to the creation of some of Mogensen's most renowned works, solidifying his status as a pivotal figure in Danish Modern design.

Mogensen's lifelong ambition was to create functional, long-lasting furniture that enhanced daily life, and the J39 Chair stands as a clear testament to his dedication.

Explore Mogensen's designs
Explore Mogensen's designs

The making of 'The People's Chair'

Børge Mogensen's career was characterised by his ability to draw inspiration from historical furniture styles across the globe and reinvent them in unique ways. One of the most notable examples of his work is the J39 chair, which he designed for FDB in 1947. Mogensen's vision was to make quality-conscious furniture design accessible to everyone.

The J39, also affectionately known as the People’s Chair, has earned this nickname due to its widespread appeal and enduring popularity in Scandinavian homes, where it is often cherished and handed down through generations. Beyond private residences, the J39 can also be found worldwide in restaurants and institutions, including prestigious places like the Royal Danish Academy of Music and the School of Architecture, where future architects familiarise themselves with this iconic and beloved design. 

The J39 is a simplification of Kaare Klint's Church Chair from 1936, which was inspired by the Shaker movement and designed for the Bethlehem Church in Copenhagen. Mogensen wanted to create a chair that was even more standardised in its expression, and with the J39, he managed to reduce the design to the absolute essentials without compromising comfort, functionality, or aesthetics. 

Mogensen simplified the chair design by changing the backrest from four horizontal slats to a single, gently curved backrest. The curved back legs were also changed to fully vertical legs, contributing to the chair's simple and clean expression. In line with the intention, the J39 did not make much fuss. Its greatest quality lies in its perfect proportions and construction, combined with excellent seating comfort. This minimalist approach has made the J39 a celebrated classic that remains just as popular today. 

In 2022, the J39 chair turned 75 years old. Continuously produced since 1947, the chair stands today as one of the strongest testimonies to Mogensen's ability to create timeless furniture that remains relevant over time. 

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