Copenhagen Part 2: Day trip to Fredericia

May 15th, 2011

We woke up early for our day trip to Fredericia. Wanting to start the day off right with some fresh brewed coffee and a big breakfast, we stopped by Granola, a charming 1930s inspired cafe, which is conveniently only a 5-10 minute walk away from the train station.

The orange juice that morning was particularly good.

I got the big breakfast platter which came with a soft boiled egg, ham, cheese, toast, and fruit salad. I think the coffee and juice was all included.

Juli got the egg sandwich with house made ketchup.

The interior of Granola is very authentic, it’s like going to a museum but everything is shiny and new. If you’re looking for a good breakfast in Copenhagen this is a really good pick.

On the way to the train station we stopped by the Playtype concept store (it’s just down the street). You can check out the Globe and Mail article here. Unfortunately it was closed, and we had a train to catch, but it was great at least peeking into the window and seeing some of the products in person.

I think most of the world’s copper is on buildings in Copenhagen.

After a pleasant 2 hour train ride we arrived in Fredericia where we were picked up by Liza Friedman, our friend and Fredericia’s International business development manager.

We walked up stairs to Fredericia’s office to meet face to face people that we had until this point only knew through exchanging emails. I made a bee-line to these small models of Børge Mogensen chairs, all original models in stunning detail. In the photos they look as if they could be life size.

My favourite was the Børge Mogensen hunting chair model, complete with brass buckles.

A tiny scale model of the Spanish chair.

We had the pleasure to meet with Thomas Gravensen, the commander and chief of Fredericia furniture, who along with Liza took us on a personal tour of the factory.

We started out in the showroom where we all sat down and had a some great conversations about Børge Mogensen, mid century design, and Fredericia’s impressive new collection.

Leather for the Børge Mogensen Spanish chair, we currently have one in our showroom if you want to come see for yourself how beautiful it is.

Børge Mogensen notes:

When you think of Danish modern design it is very easy to conjure up images of clean lined teak furniture, but when you really think about the big mid century designers like Hans Wegner, Finn Juhl, and Børge Mogensen you start to see that there aren’t as many similarities as you might think. Their personal styles and interpretation of the Klint school are widely different from one another.

The Klint school itself refers to the furniture school founded in 1924 at the Royal Danish Academy of fine arts, lead by architect and designer Kaare Klint. The Klint school’s philosophy was that furniture was a tool and therefore the design’s functionality was deemed more important than its aesthetics.  While designers like Hans Wegner and Finn Juhl blurred the line between function and aesthetics, Børge Mogensen stayed true to his teacher’s philosophy.

Mogensen created his own signature aesthetic, cutting solid wood in the same way it would naturally appear in nature instead of bending it. This gave Mogensen’s pieces a strong and monolithic aesthetic, compared to other famous designers of the time. This is perhaps why his classmates Hans Wegner and Finn Juhl maintain a mainstream appeal, while Mogensen’s pieces appear to be modest in comparison. This modesty stems from a social conscientiousness, Mogensen saw his furniture as tools for the family home, many of his most famous designs were made for his family first before going into production. The simplicity of Mogensen’s furniture can be seen only at first glance, when you study his designs for a moment you notice the masterful construction, beautiful materials and proportions.

Thomas told us a funny story that I think really encompasses Mogensen’s personality and perception. During a very important exhibition for Hans Wegner, Mogensen sat in an exhibited chair and turned to Wegner and casually said “Well Hans… One can sit in it.” I loved hearing that.

A collection of quarter-sawn white oak.

Hand assembling dining chairs.

Stacks and stacks of Trinidad dining chairs, one of the most comfortable chairs we have ever sat in. We have them around our desk at the shop.

Original illustrations of Mogensen and Nanna Ditzel by a famous Danish caricature artist.

Molds for leather cutting hang from the walls.

These are the the molds for the iconic arm of the Mogensen sofa. They strategically place these molds so that as little leather as possible is wasted.

After the leather is cut all of the pieces are sewn meticulously using these machines.

A collection of leather sofa covers ready to be stuffed with their pillows.

It takes two people to upholster a Borge Mogensen sofa because the leather has to be pulled super tight so there are no wrinkles.

The piping is a very beautiful detail that relies on a perfectly executed upholstery job.

The construction of the sofa uses many different natural materials including pure jute webbing. The cotton string is used instead of synthetics since materials like nylon take a long time to wear and can actually cut up the insides of a sofa from the owner’s weight after long periods of use. Cotton is much less abrasive, and having all of the materials age with each other naturally lends to the long life of each Mogensen sofa.

The last part of the studio was seeing the raw solid wood carcasses of the Mogensen wing chair. Even in their most stripped down form, they look strong and solid.

Each frame is made with a combination of solid beech wood and solid white oak, two very strong and stable hard woods.

Thank you for the tour, Liza and Thomas! We really appreciated seeing where some of our favourite furniture pieces are made. We hope you enjoyed it too!

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