The incredible Finn Juhl: Pelikan Chair

July 6th, 2010 by Valerie

Finn Juhl: Pelikan

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We are thinking about buying a new chair for the living room to replace one we picked up at Society of St Vincent De Paul. If you have never been there, I recommend checking it out. It’s overwhelmingly huge and seemed to require frequent trips to find the real prizes, but we did find a good looking chair for $60 bucks that has lasted us for almost two years. It’s worth a trip! But still. It might be time for an upgrade. In my dreams, I’d get a piece by Finn Juhl (1912-1989), a Danish furniture designer who was trained as an architect, but gained notoriety for his beautiful furniture in the 1940s. The license for his pieces now belongs exclusively to the Danish company Hansen & Sorensen.

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The Pelikan is a wonderful example of Finn Juhl’s design. Inspired by the modern “free art” of the time, its organic shape and fluid lines are so inviting. The Pelikan is said to be very comfortable and is manufactured with the best craftsmanship, including hand-sewn upholstery and legs that come in several types of wood.

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A Pelikan (or a few Pelikans) great coupled with a Poeten–another of Finn Juhl’s classic designs. Juhl created the Poeten for his own home in 1941, and today it is an endure piece of classic Danish furniture.

Image Source: Hansen & Sorensen

A designer who Lives it – Classics and Quality

For a designer having quality furniture in your own life means constant reference to the real deal and continual reference to detail.  Designers and quality controllers need to not only have grown through a driving career based on technical experience, but they need to have the rub off from historical richness and detail: The best retail design practitioners (and I’m thinking of Rob Scarlett for example) seem to breathe it; it’s a given and they have it in their DNA from birth.


To find the right quality in a designer look at not only a good CV but peer into his world, where he or she lives and how they seek out their daily inspiration.  It is so important to have the right fundamental appreciation framework.  It keeps your ideas intact when working under the daily design production process. Fundamentals which recur and manifest through to the surface even under pressure or jet lag.

With the right fundamentals the client/designer relationship shares the common ground: a love of quality and classics could be enough to carry forward long term partnerships.

Casa Parma lounge restored 17th century chest and fire surround

If I need to check a Louise cabriole leg proportion I go into the dining room.

Beyond that if one were to strip back the ornamentation of these fair pieces one would have a stunning modern sku!… ready for lacquer and glass top… and shooting next day for a web launch for example.

You can do that alongside the real article in a way that strikes more powerful chord … out of what is known and measurable. The result should resonate, become easily ranged and simply sell well because of its genuine pedigree.

Fundamentals in classics, I believe are the crucial building blocks of success in retail design today.

Wild Italian cabriole gilded tavolino with faux Sienna marble top 17th century