A Better Choice: Danish Modern Furniture

We’re surrounded by furniture day in and day out, so it’s surprising when people don’t give furniture much thought. It deserves a great deal of consideration, and for many reasons.

For starters, there is the ergonomic aspect, the size ratio and compatibility it offers for your life, and so much more. What should really be the big deal is the investment aspect. Some furniture never devalues. It’s classic, and that makes it an investment, not a purchase.

Danish furniture chair

This image was taken by scmtngirl who found this Danish designed chair at the Salvation Army on Front Street in Santa Cruz for $18. Click through to this image to read the whole story.

Of furniture designers who somehow nail all factors — the aesthetic, the ergonomics, and the everlasting cool — it’s “Danish Modern” teak that is probably among the best furniture you can pounce on right now, investment-wise.

Watching the “used furniture” markets, especially online places like Craigslist and other used furniture boons, it’s crazy how much Danish teak is flooding the market in some areas.

Sometimes dealers get a hold of it, and believe me, there are a lot of mid-century Danish furniture devotees who sell nothin’ but, like this Massachusetts shop. Other times, homeowners are willing to sell it at a lower price just to get it out their door. For whatever reason, it seems like a lot of folks who bought teak when it was all the rage after the Second World War are now parting with pieces they’ve doted on and loved their entire lives.

The rise of Danish Modern

Filled with clean lines, easy to reupholster, modeled to fit the body in the purest of ways, Danish teak first came into vogue in the ‘20s when the “Danish Modern” movement took hold, inspired by Bauhaus elements of simple design. It didn’t catch on in America for a while, but would soon suit the cleaner, more fluid style that began appearing in Hollywood movies and in your finer post-War homes.

Investments you can live with

Danish furniture chair 2

image: Stewf (click through to see the whole series)

More than a half-century on, we know these lines have never gone out of style. It’s easy-to-maintain furniture that drinks natural oils, is hardy, and continues to be well-made.

The best part is, it’s comparatively priced to mid-range furniture today, but the well-cared-for $250 teak coffee table will hold its value 10, 20 years from now, while a similarly-priced mass-market piece will be donated to a college student or Goodwill.

We’re victims to the delusion of “mass-made means mass-savings”, when most of these big-box furniture pieces become a total-loss purchase, because it gets used into the ground. Mid-century teak pieces, however,  have survived six-plus decades of use and often look the exact same as they did decades ago.

Why is Danish minimalism so attractive?

I’m a big fan of keeping furniture simple so it doesn’t fight with things that actually represent you, your life, and who you’ve become through your experiences — your photos, your art, your books, your well-chosen mementos.

Furniture, it’s just stuff. It shouldn’t steal the show. It shouldn’t detract from us, especially when we’ve splurged to look beautiful in our clothes. Furniture should be the comfortable-but-simple backdrop to the life you’re wanting to live.

The Danish, they understood this. They still understand this. Denmark is a place of striking beauty, a land of natural resources, a place with long dark winters and bright, dramatic summers, where natural light is always a thing to be celebrated. They favor scale, balance, and fluidity, and it shows in everything they design.

Teak: rare beauty

You’d think furniture was designed from the forests around them, but Danish designers fell in love with the rare super-hardwood teak from Southeast Asia, both because its quality would sustain over the long term, and also because it was incredibly light for its durability.

Teak wood is hard to find today. Forestry practices and urban sprawl have seen teak forests decline dramatically. This adds to the value and collectible nature of teak furniture, and makes it unique in its beauty.

Quality: A moral choice

When you’re looking to decorate your place, don’t just think of style or design and price point. Think of pieces that have already withstood several decades of use. If it’s still well-made and beautiful today, it’s got a good chance of staying that way long-term. Don’t you want that, a piece that grows with you and offers you continuity in your life? I know I do.

We should choose more carefully what we surround ourselves with. Materialism isn’t the point of this, it’s about finding an aesthetic that doesn’t get in the way of the life you want to lead. It’s about keeping your space clean and minimalist, while buying quality pieces that won’t need replacing for decades, if ever.

Make mindful purchases. It’s all part of changing our values and saving our landfills from poor quality products destined for a short life.

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