In the mid 20th century Danish designers pretty much took the world by storm with their sleek modern lines expressed in teak and walnut. Even today those same Mid-Century Dining Chair designs hold our attention as we thumb through the images in magazines on interior design. It’s hard to shake the influence of that era. Even as I have tried to design from original inspiration, I find something akin to the Danish spirit lurking behind the pages as I draw.
My background and experience come through work with Appalachian ladderback designs and American Windsor forms. But as I strive to speak with my own original voice, I find my designs running in parallel to, without originating from, the Danish boom. I am not sure why that is. I do believe we are influenced in our thinking by images we have seen and maybe long forgotten.
I also share a design aesthetic with the Danes from the 50’s. In my 2-year odyssey to redesign our Appalachian CIO (Chee – o, meaning renewal or revival in Latin ) ladderback the result seems to carry the faint smell of Danish Teak oil. I do think I took the ergonomics further than Kai Kristiansen did and found new ways to make a seat. But the aesthetic parallel albeit unintentional, can’t be ignored.
Another design that incubated in my mind for decades before I found a way to build it, emerged to become our Lily chairs. The inspiration in my designs developed from my Windsor chairmaking days. I tried for years to think of how to make a carved wood back that held the same integrity as a Windsor but was more comfortable. While the way I went through the design process developed into what I can proudly call original design, parallels exist from the Danish portfolio.
While these parallels are unintentional, they can hardly be considered accidental. When you look at our shared design philosophy and intentions it is no wonder, we fell onto a similar trail. I was hoping in my own efforts to bring truly original and fresh new designs into the world. And I think I did, with the help of our team of craftsmen and the guidance of my wife and business partner. I don’t think these designs could have found their way into being without their support. And I certainly don’t mind sharing this trail with our Danish friends and their mid century dining chair designs. We have been honored by the support of our clients who approve of these efforts. We also received validation from the Antatheum Museum of Architecture and Design by winning the Good Design Award with each of these designs. I find it particularly interesting to know that it was with the guidance of Ray and Charles Eames as well as Aero Saarinen that this award was developed in 1950.
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