Borge Mogensen

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So who is Borge Mogensen?

Despite Borge Mogensen’s  playboy good looks, and his topnotch legacy as one of the foremost Danish designers from the middle of the last century, I had never heard of him before I started my new job at midcentury emporium, WYETH.  Insert “horror” emoji.

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Yup my learning curve there has sometimes been as steep as the Himalayas.  At times I have been embarrassed by my lack of knowledge, but I am improving :-).

I now know that Borge Mogensen is one of the darlings of Scandinavian design. I find his pieces so warmly appealing that I want to share them with you.

Beautiful Rooms with Borge Mogensen’s Furniture

Interior design by Robert Stilin. Chair by Borge Mogensen

Interior design by Robert Stilin. Chair by Borge Mogensen

Sofa by Borge Mogensen

Sofa by Borge Mogensen

Interior design by Another Ballroom. Dining chairs by Borge Mogensen.

Interior design by Another Ballroom. Dining chairs by Borge Mogensen.

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Iconic Spanish chair

Iconic Spanish chair

Borge Mogensen’s Shell Chairs in his own home.

Borge Mogensen’s Shell Chairs in his own home.

Design Hallmarks

Borge Mogensen began with function.  Whenever he approached a new project, he made a studied assessment of the needs to be met before he picked up his pencil.  He eschewed fancy or trendy materials, typically preferring to work his magic with wood and leather.  Mogensen’s pieces are known for their strong, simple lines.

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I have experienced Mogensen’s legendary  durability and comfort first hand.  As  I comb through WYETH’S  vintage design books for Instagram content, I typically perch on one of his daybeds!  I now long for a one in the apartment. Perfect for small space living and way more stylish than your average pull-out couch.

Interior design by Robert Stilin.

Interior design by Robert Stilin.

Reinterpretation of Historic Forms

Borge Mogensen also is known for his canny ability to reinterpret traditional forms.  His Spokeback Sofa has hinged sides that can be lowered to facilitate lounging, just like the venerable Knole settee .

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His Shell Chair with its oval back and water drop cutout sides evokes a 19th century Empire side chair.

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Mogensen designed his iconic Spanish Chair after a trip to Spain in 1958.  That chair is a derivative of chairs often found in areas influenced by ancient Islamic culture, from Andalusia to northern India.  Mogensen modernized the form by abandoning the elaborate carvings seen in the traditional chair, while retaining  the broad armrests and adding a leather seat.

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Background and Home

Borge Mogensen was born in Denmark in 1914.  He started as a cabinet maker in 1934 and went on to train as  both as a furniture designer  and as an architect.  Mogensen’s chief mentor was designer Kaare Klint (a future Designer Who’s Who subject-have a look at Klint’s famous Safari Chair), working in Klint’s design studio.  He also worked as Klint’s teaching assistant at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, School of Architecture.  It was from Klint that Mogensen gained his deep respect for classic lines, functionality and comfort.

Borge Mogensen’s home clearly reveals his deep respect for simple lines, comfort and durability.  He designed and built the home, filling it with furniture of his own designs.  He shared the warm abode with his wife Alice for 14 years. 

Borge Mogensen furnished his dining room with his Shaker-inspired chairs and table. Fellow Danish designer Poul Henningsen designed the chandelier.

Borge Mogensen furnished his dining room with his Shaker-inspired chairs and table. Fellow Danish designer Poul Henningsen designed the chandelier.

Borge Mogensen’s living room with his model 2213 sofa and Spanish chairs.

Borge Mogensen’s living room with his model 2213 sofa and Spanish chairs.

A Mogensen chair and table furnish his cozy book-filled study.

A Mogensen chair and table furnish his cozy book-filled study.

Borge Mogensen’s designs received many awards including the prestigious C.F. Hansen medal in 1972.  He died at age 58 in 1972.

Photo credits: Furniture collage, images from current and past inventory at WYETH.  Spoke back sofa.  Knole settee. Shell chair from Jacksons and Empire chair from 1st dibs.  Spanish chair, Details  and Traditional Spanish chair.  Another Ballroom Robert Stilin shots from his portfolio. Spanish chair in a room.  Pair of Shell chairs    Sofa in a room.  Blue Spokeback settee.  First photo.  Last three photos  were taken by Andrew Wood for Magnus Englund’s (co-founder of Skandium) excellent book, Scandinavian Living.