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Chieftain Chair
Iconic Designs

Chieftain Chair

About the Design

Finn Juhl (1912–89) is often credited with having played a pivotal role in the excitement around Danish modern design that swept through the United States during the 1950s. Juhl’s sculptural Chieftain chair, which he designed in 1949, was considered a renewal of Danish design traditions and is a long-celebrated milestone in the furniture maker’s legacy. Mid-century Scandinavian design emphasized warm woods, gentle lines and subtle curves, and while Juhl designed the Chieftain chair with those high standards in mind, modern art was his biggest inspiration.

Years before Juhl completed the Chieftain chair — his most desired piece of furniture in a long and groundbreaking career — the Danish designer was frequenting museums and on a path to study art history. Instead, at his father’s request, Juhl pursued a degree in architecture at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen. He worked at architect Vilhelm Lauritzen’s firm, collaborated on chairs with cabinetmaker Niels Vodder and opened his own practice in 1945. Along with a group of other young Danish craftsmen such as Hans Wegner and Arne Jacobsen, Juhl sought to reawaken the idea of design in their country, pioneering the use of teak in furniture making and going on to create expressive, experimental pieces like the Chieftain.

Juhl’s award-winning Chieftain chair, upholstered in leather with its high back and organically curving armrests, is an imposing piece that dominates in both size and extravagance, but also requires a significant amount of space around it. “Perhaps I had a vague idea for some time that I wanted to design something bigger,” Juhl said of the teak chair, the form of which references Egyptian furniture and tribal art. The original armchair was in production for a very short period at Baker Furniture and elsewhere over the years. It was relaunched in 2002 by House of Finn Juhl / One Collection. Original versions of the beloved Chieftain chair rarely sell for less than six figures at auction.

Chieftain Chair

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Finn Juhl Chieftain Easy Chair Produced by Cabinetmaker Niels Vodder
By Finn Juhl
Located in Limhamn, Skåne län
Very rare Chieftain easy chair designed by Finn Juhl. Produced by cabinetmaker Niels Vodder in Denmark.  
Category

Vintage 1950s Danish Scandinavian Modern Lounge Chairs

Materials

Leather, Teak

Finn Juhl Pair of Chieftain Chairs by Baker
By Finn Juhl, Baker Furniture Company
Located in Highland, IN
Finn Juhl's 1949 masterpiece, the chieftain chair, employs iconography of tribal forms and Juhl’s innovative approach to design which accentuates the separation of the seat, back, an...
Category

Vintage 1940s American Scandinavian Modern Lounge Chairs

Materials

Leather, Walnut

1950s Teak and Tan Leather Chieftain's Chair by Finn Juhl
By Finn Juhl, Niels Vodder
Located in Esbjerg, DK
Chieftain's chair, teak by Finn Juhl, manufactured by Niels Vodder, Denmark. The powerful design is supported by the size and extravagance of the impressive chieftain's chair. Fin...
Category

Vintage 1950s Danish Scandinavian Modern Lounge Chairs

Materials

Leather, Teak

The Chieftain Series
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