A Modernist Renaissance: Where to Nab Scandinavian Modern Furniture in Minneapolis

Arne Jacobsen Set of 7 ‘Serie 7’ Chairs- 1955, manufactured by Fritz Hansen, together with one reproduction. Brought $850 at Rachel Davis Fine Arts in 2005

Thanks to stores like IKEA, mid-century modern furniture, and accessories (from the 1930s- 1960s) – with their unique lines and textured fabrics- have made an international design comeback over the past decade. The movement is known as Scandinavian modernism (which encompasses Danish modernism, Finish modernism, and Swedish modernism) emerged in 1930 during the same period when modernist movements in the U.S. and elsewhere were beginning to form. Its growth was interrupted by Europe’s economic decline and World War II, but the movement reached its height in the late 1950s. Scandinavian modernism continued to influence design trends well into the 1960s, and this aesthetic has experienced a widespread resurgence as of late.

Key designers of Scandinavian modernism included Arne Jacobsen (Denmark), Hans J Wegner (Denmark), Eero Saarinen (Finland) and Borge Mogensen (Denmark). Highly influenced by their design sensibilities, Charles and Ray Eames (USA) brought the clean lines of Scandinavian modernism to the U.S. market in the 1940s and 1950s. Several of these companies, as well as those of lesser-known modern designers, are still producing furniture today.

If you are a fan of this vintage Scandinavian style, it’s relatively easy to find contemporary reproductions of original modern designs; restored pieces from the 50s and 60s are also abundant, especially in larger cities. Ecologically conscious consumers gravitate to the idea of refurbished pieces, seeing as the processes associated with rehabbing furniture are often less detrimental to the environment than those involved with manufacturing and shipping new pieces.

Eero Saarinen; Birch plywood Grasshopper chair;. Sold for $4,750 Rago Arts and Auction Center earlier this year.

For those who favor a mixed and matched look, the organic shapes and clean lines of modern furniture make it easy to collect a variety of pieces that work together. Another benefit to modern pieces is that they are, by definition, functional as well as visually pleasing. Their solid construction, combined with the fact that fabric can be easily swapped out and replaced, and tables can be sanded re-stained without losing their original luster, makes these pieces a solid choice for homes with active children.

My husband and I were fortunate enough to inherit quite a few Danish modern pieces from our parents. We’ve supplemented them with some great finds from Danish Teak Classics (located in the Northrup King Building in Northeast Minneapolis. Our place has a clean, warm look and we couldn’t be happier.

Where to purchase Scandinavian modern furniture in Minneapolis:

Design Within Reach (throughout the U.S., find a store near you at www.designwithinreach.com— the Minneapolis location is in Uptown at Lake and Hennepin) offers a variety of modern reproductions, including the ever popular Eames chair.

Danish Teak Classics (Minneapolis, Minnesota, www.danishteakclassics.com). All of the new and original pieces in the Northeast Minneapolis warehouse and showroom are carefully selected (during yearly trips to Denmark) and restored by the owner.

If you are willing to pay the shipping or make the drive to pick up your mid-century treasure, there are great finds on Ebay and Craigslist. This is a great option for shoppers on a budget or those who don’t mind spending a bit of time rehabbing a well-worn piece. Also- don’t forget garage sales. We found a fantastic little teak table for $10 last year that just needed a bit of love.

More information about modern furniture can be found at danishmodernfurniture.org

About Art After X

With the death of President Kennedy in 1963, America changed. As hard as it is to minimize that sentiment, the effect of Dallas was even greater. The same year saw the merging of the Dallas Museum for Contemporary Arts, which had been central to the art scene, and the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts. Douglas MacAgy, then the director of DMCA, not only opposed the merger, but also declined to directorship of the combined museum. The regionalist movement which had been strong for decades, was giving way to more of an interest in what was going on nationally, and internationally. Like it or not, Dallas was on the national stage. When the Kennedy’s arrived in Fort Worth, local collectors had decorated a hotel room with internationally-renowned works. While the president and his wife learned a great deal about the ability of Texans to collect major art, there was little they could glean about the local scene in this era-defining city. With this in mind, we have begun a project to look not back at the art scene in Dallas, but foreword from 1963. We are interviewing gallery owners, curators and others involved in the art scene then, but this will be a story told mostly through interviews with artists active in the city from that point into the 1980s. The result will be a book with a video component. We hope you will join us in our journey. The hashtag for the project is #artafterx and the url artafterx.com will point to the latest updates on this weblog.

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