Børge Mogensen: Pursuing the Practical

Born 13 April, 1914 in Aalborg, Denmark, Børge Mogensen first ventured into design as a cabinetmaker in 1934. Following this, he went on to study under Professor Kaare Klint at the Danish School of Arts and Crafts in Copenhagen in 1936, before entering the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in 1938, later graduating as an architect in 1942. During this time, he worked as Klint’s teaching assistant.

The same year, Mogensen became head of design at FDB (The Danish Cooperative Wholesale Society) before establishing his own design office in 1950.

Lounge chair for Erhard Rasmussen, Denmark, 1949; teak plywood, teak, oak

 

While attending classes at the Danish School of Arts and Crafts, the young Mogensen developed a close partnership with his mentor Kaare Klint and consequently absorbed Klint’s approach to simple and functional furniture design.

Kaare Klint aided Mogensen by encouraging a steadfast commitment to producing classical, simple and highly practical furniture. Mogensen also became interested in researching contemporary lifestyles, in order to develop domestic objects that would be customized to fit specific uses.

Hunting Chair for Erhard Rasmussen, 1950; oak, leather

Continuing Klint’s pioneering studies into how the size and proportion of objects can influence their overall design, Mogensen, collaborating with Grethe Meyer, produced a project in 1954 called the Boligens Byggeskabe (Construction Cupboards of the House), which introduced the idea of building shelving and storage units as part of a room, rather than simply purchasing and placing them in the space.

Mogensen launched studies to determine the standard measures for common objects, such as cutlery and shirts, and how many of each item the average person owned. With this information, he developed a set of figures for the base width and depth of drawers and shelves, and his information tables were published as a manual on building storage systems.

Cabinet and set of 5 stools for Fredericia Stolefabrik, Denmark, circa 1960; teak, brass

Between 1955 and 1967, he worked on the related Øresund shelving series that took on the enormous task of solving every storage need that could arise in the modern home. Mogensen’s approach mirrored a scientific analysis.

Mogensen exhibited his furniture designs almost every year at the Copenhagen Cabinetmakers’ Guild Exhibitions. His furniture design style, strongly indicative of his training as a traditional craftsman, was greatly appreciated by a public who had not yet become interested in modernism and the changes it heralded for furniture fabrication and the decorative arts. Mogensen appeased these sceptics with his classical designs and from early on, subtly incorporated new ideas into his reimaginings of traditional forms.

Mogensen enjoyed many awards for his contributions to design, including the Eckersberg Medaillen (1950) and the C.F. Hansen medal (1972), as well as the Honorary Royal Designer for Industry award (1972). His work has been featured in one-man exhibitions in Zurich, London, New York, Stockholm, Paris and Copenhagen.

Image references:

Lounge chair for Erhard Rasmussen, Denmark, 1949; teak plywood, teak, oak – sold by WRIGHT auctions ($2,750) https://www.wright20.com/auctions/view_search/JKMR/JKMS/164/LA/mogensen/J1RI

Hunting Chair for Erhard Rasmussen, 1950; oak, leather https://www.danish-furniture.com/

Cabinet and set of 5 stools for Fredericia Stolefabrik, Denmark, circa 1960; teak, brass – sold by WRIGHT auctions ($5,000 – $7,000) https://www.wright20.com/auctions/view_search/LN57/LN58/193/LA/mogensen/L4J1