On Ya Bike

Great Dane is about all that's great about Scandinavia. And in Scandinavia everyone rides a bike.

Skeppshult bicycles are a blend of design and quality where neither is compromised. Hand made in the same factory since 1920 in a small town in southern Sweden they believe that a bike is designed to not only get you from A to B but it can do so in comfort and style.

Skeppshult has been producing classic bicycles in Sweden for nearly 100 years. Skeppshult, a name taken from the town where the bicycles are produced, has held on to this tradition of producing fine quality well designed classic and comfort bicycles.

The company has been awarded a royal warrant, which is a distinction awarded by the King of Sweden to those companies that embody the standard of superior quality and workmanship associated with fine Swedish design.

My brush with Arne Vodder

I have been searching for the last 6 months tyring to track down Arne Vodder. I somehow ended up at a website for a small manufacturer on the west, a company called Nielius. They manufacture a sofa by Arne Vodder. We contacted them and asked if they were in touch with him, they were and I asked if it would be possible to meet the great man. Nielius informed us that Arne Vodder had nearly died in January and was still quite unwell, but they would mention our interest. So we waited.

Luckily Arne Vodder was feeling a great deal better and would be interested in meeting us for coffee, as I was travelling with our resident Dane, Jytte and felt it would be a great opportunity to have a Danish national with me, as it is difficult to know how comfortable Arne Vodder might be with English. Of course it was perfect.

I have to admit I was quite nervous to be meeting him and felt myself getting anxious, like a kid on my first day of school; butterflies. It was something special, a feeling as a grown up we don’t get to experience as much as we would like.

Arne Vodder was charming and his English was perfect. He had very kindly brought along some copies of his works and an old Sibast catalogue (one of the manufacturers), which was great. We talked of what he designed and who he worked with.

It came to light that Arne Vodder had studied under Finn Juhl! I delicately asked if Juhl was his inspiration for his use of colour, he replied with a smile; “Yes, it was Finn Juhl”. He talked extensively of the office series he did, which was widely sold into the USA for banks, I can only imagine how fantastic those banks would have looked in their day.

I asked Arne if he was working with anyone else, as we really loved his cabinets and would be thrilled to find someone who might be reproducing it again. I was very excited when he mentioned he was working with a small cabinet maker who was looking at reproducing the cabinet series.

The Vodder designs are unbelievably modern, using a combination of wood, metal and colour, the proportions are exact and combined with the materials, provides a resolved cabinet that cannot be improved upon.
I am constantly impressed by these guys. Amazing that 50 years ago they were coming up with this kind of design, it is truly inspiring and humbling at the same time to have the privilege to work with this product and have the opportunity to meet someone who I believe has had such a significant influence on design today.

It became clear to me that this humble man did not consider himself important or significant, he was simply doing what came to him naturally, this was a really rare experience, to meet someone so humble and so accomplished.

We talked of other designers and makers and we came to be talking of a company Montana (still around today) and their work with Fritz Hansen. Arne Vodder talked of someone in the Montana wanting to make plastic wall systems (Montana made and still makes very high quality wall systems today), he mentioned they were making this plastic system, but due to the material, plastic, there could be a 3mm variation., Arne Vodder smiled at this point, not a big smile but a smile of someone who new exactly what he was leading up to, and was having a chuckle to himself, then he said; “This guy had contracted pantonidies, the disease of Verner Panton, everything in plastic!”’ then he broke into laughter.

He had obviously told this story before. This story was as much about the joke as it was about the integrity, exactness and attention to detail that most of the designers expected of themselves and their manufacturers.

I really felt a great privilege to have met him and I really hope that if his storage range does go back into production and is done with the same integrity and belief that they obviously put into their products all those years ago.

We will keep you posted re development with this project.

I also asked for his signature and photo with him, I think he was quite chuffed about this also, a very charming man.

Juhl Time

Today we met with the Finn Juhl people.

We were greeted in the most Danish of traditions, strong black coffee and a plate of short breads filled with strawberry mousse and covered in perfect Danish strawberries. We discussed business and Finn Juhl for a while and heard how they started.

One of the directors Henrik, was asked by the widow of Finn Juhl if he could make a #57 sofa for an exhibition she had organized in Denmark. Of course he jumped at the chance and they made such a fantastic example that Finn Juhl’s widow asked if they would be interested in producing the sofa, this was almost 10 years ago. Henrik is also the cousin of Peter Morgensen, of Borg Mogensen fame and clearly has the furniture in his veins, a really lovely charming guy.

We talked and talked about design and what we do at Great Dane and then Henrik asked how would we like to do this; as in what shall we do to make our partnership official. I put out my hand and we shook. That is about as Danish as you can get. The deal is done Great Dane is now the exclusive representative for probably the most significant designer to come out of Denmark in the whole 20th century. We are so thrilled.

Henrik then said we should go and see the showroom, but unfortunately and fortunately, all the Finn Juhl furniture is in Copenhagen. I was a little confused, but Henrik informed us that Finn Juhls private residence had recently been given to the Danish government by his widow which is now open to the public, and they have a temporary exhibit of all of his work at a museum that is next to his house. His house is stunning and I cant wait to see it.

We went to the showroom anyway, which was a house from 1790, it was just fantastic. The open fireplace was going when we arrived, beautiful old oak floor, white washed ceiling and walls, it breathed Hygge. We sat down and Henrik and few others from the office joined us in front of the fire for drinks.

The experience of this room, even without the Finn Juhl product was one of those rare moments, that was the culmination of all I consider to be right about what we do. The warmth of the room, the people, the drink and the conversation on Danish design. There was an entire wall floor to ceiling full of books and magazines from the 30’s to now about Danish Design. We talked of Finn Juhl, Illum, WIkkelsoe, Erik Buch…….

It then it came to light that Henrik was Erick Buch’s nephew, it was fascinating. Erik Buch studied under Finn Juhl, then Evan (one of the other directors) said he had met Illum WIkkelsoe and H W Klein and our mouths dropped. He thinks both of them are still alive. I will have to come back soon to try to meet them.

I really felt as if I was sitting here in the perfect place for discussing Danish design and history.

We sat and talked and drank for hours discussing the old designers, how creative and interesting they must have been, what it would have been like to have been involved in such a renaissance of furniture design and manufacturing, and for a moment I felt that we had captured that feeling in that room, it was hygge.

I have waffled on enough, it was wonderful experience and I thought you guys might like to hear it.

We are off to see Aksel Kersgaard this morning and Getama, and then we will confirm today we hopefully will have lunch with Arne Vodder on Friday! Its proving to be my best trip ever.

Buying Trip - 08

I am back in CPH. Its been 6 months since I was here, too long really - but a new baby will do that to you!

Cant wait to get my teeth stuck into things. I am travelling with our Sydney Showroom Manager Jytte who happens to be Danish so am looking forward to making some real progress re getting some exclusive deals going & securing more partnerships for Great Dane.

My itinerary is chock a block. I am particularly looking forward to meeting Arne Vodder so hopefully we will hear from him soon. I will travel across Denmark this trip buying from various suppliers scattered across the country. I am also taking this opportunity to visit some of our partner manufacturers - I never tire of observing their incredible factories & witnessing the authenticity of production here.

Stay tuned.

The Stouby Sofa & Ottoman

We are so excited by this new addition to our range - the Stouby Sofa & Ottoman.

A Borge Mogensen inspired piece they are hugely impressive; a classic and simply Danish.

Made in the finest natural leather; highest strength, best comfort and most exquisite feel this sofa is not just to be sat in but admired and built to last for many years.

Stouby were a natural fit for us as they are committed to pursuing the traditions of good crafts-manship acquired through more than a century of furniture making.

From the beginning in 1902 they have used only the best materials, and through long- term cooperation with selected suppliers have achieved standards of extraordinary quality and excellence.

Art for the floor

Patterns and various textures are abundant as we welcome the new Kateha rug collection in-store. More than a rug to keep the winter chills at bay, but a beautiful piece of art for the floor.

The rugs are of premium quality; using 100%, new wool they are all hand tufted weaves and colours to make the perfect centerpiece for any space.

And important to note; all rugs come with a stamp of RugMark certification, supporting the end of exploitative child labour.

Light My Fire

Winter always gets me thinking about lighting.

What better way to change the mood of home to reflect the season but to add a new light design, and our collection is extensive and impressive. A substantial range of Verner Panton Flowerpot – the iconic lamp & light named after the happy days of flower power arrives in new fashionable hues: Pink & Purple.

And not to be forgotten, the revival of the Topan light emerges, a classic black pendant straight from the 60’s.