Finn Juhl - Chieftain armchair - Gokelaere & Robinson - Design Miami/ The global forum for collectible design
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Finn Juhl

Chieftain armchair

This object listing has been archived.

Previously exhibited at Basel 2022.

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Made for the Cabinetmakers Guild exhibition in 1949 the « Chieftain Chair » is one of the most distinctive pieces of furniture made by Finn Juhl and probably his most important creation. Executed by renowned cabinetmaker Niels Vodder, the wooden frame of the chair was inspired by forms from weapons and utilitarian objects of « primitive » people, giving it a smooth and very organic shape. The design of the« Chieftain Chair » was made according to strictly scientific principles to ensure maximum comfort. The structure of the chair seems to defy gravity showing the seated person looked like they were floating. Finn Juhl strove to create a visual disconnection between the supportive elements of the chair and the surfaces that carried the seater. This composition became one of his hallmarks, as he found the perfect balance between stability and delicate sculptural form. The story behind the « Chieftain » nickname is that after King Frederik IX had tried the chair, a journalist asked Finn Juhl if he would call it the King’s chair and Finn Juhl objected that it was too pretentious that « you had better call it a chieftain’s chair »

Finn Juhl


Initially, Finn Juhl wanted to become an art historian. Since his early years, he had been interested in fine arts. However, his father wouldn't allow a career in the arts. Instead Finn Juhl enrolled at the Department of architecture at the Royal Academy of Arts in Copenhagen. Finn Juhl began his studies in the 1930s, which was an important period in furniture design, when modern design started to emerge. While he was still a student, Finn Juhl started working with the prominent Danish architect Vilhelm Lauritzen in 1934. At his studio, he worked on major projects such as the Danish Broadcasting House and Copenhagen Airport. Finn Juhl was kept so busy, that he never finished his studies. Despite this, he received the honour of becoming a member of the Academic Architect Society in 1942, and later in life, he became a visiting professor at the Institute of Design in Chicago. At the time when he had made himself a name as a furniture designer, he would always speak of himself as being a selftaught.

One of the international highlights of Juhl’s career was designing the complete interior of the Trusteeship Council Chamber at the UN headquarters in New York between 1951 and 52.

  • Date/


  • Color/


  • Material/

    Leather, Walnut

  • Dimension/

    85.0 x 94.0 x 105.0 cm (33.5 x 37.0 x 41.3 in)

  • Style/


  • Heritage/


  • Ships from/


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