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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 Brown Chair in Teak
By Finn Juhl
Located in Epperstone, Nottinghamshire
Legendary Chieftain chair designed by Finn Juhl. This example in wonderful solid teak (no longer in production) and made by One Collection. Approximately 5 years old. Fantastic and r...
Category

21st Century and Contemporary Danish Scandinavian Modern Lounge Chairs

Materials

Teak

Niels Vodder's Own ‘Chieftain’ Lounge Chair by Finn Juhl
By Finn Juhl
Located in Waalwijk, NL
Finn Juhl, ‘Chieftain’ lounge chair, teak, leather, Denmark, designed in 1949 'Chieftain' lounge chair designed by Finn Juhl, owned by Niels Vodder himself which makes this chair ...
Category

Vintage 1940s Danish Scandinavian Modern Armchairs

Materials

Leather, Teak

Finn Juhl Chieftain Armchair Wood and Leather
By Finn Juhl
Located in Barcelona, Barcelona
Chair designed by Finn Juhl in 1949, relaunched in 2002. Manufactured by House of Finn Juhl in Denmark. The iconic Chieftain chair is one of Finn Juhl’s absolute masterpieces, re...
Category

21st Century and Contemporary Danish Modern Chairs

Materials

Leather, Wood

Set of Chieftain Armchair and Chieftain Stool in Wood and Leather by Finn Juhl
By Finn Juhl
Located in Barcelona, Barcelona
Chair designed by Finn Juhl in 1949, relaunched in 2002. Chieftain footstool designed by Finn Juhl in 1953, relaunched in 2015. Manufactured by House of Finn Juhl in Denmark. Th...
Category

21st Century and Contemporary Danish Modern Chairs

Materials

Leather, Wood

1940s Teak and Black Leather Chieftain's Chair by Finn Juhl
By Finn Juhl, Niels Vodder, Hans J. Wegner
Located in Frankfurt, Hessen, DE
Chieftain's chair, teak by Finn Juhl, manufactured by Niels Vodder, Denmark, 1949. The powerful design is supported by the size and extravagance of the impressive chieftain's chai...
Category

Vintage 1940s Danish Mid-Century Modern Lounge Chairs

Materials

Leather, Teak

Finn Juhl Chieftain Armchair Wood and Leather
By Finn Juhl
Located in Barcelona, Barcelona
Chair designed by Finn Juhl in 1949, relaunched in 2002. Manufactured by House of Finn Juhl in Denmark. The iconic Chieftain Chair is one of Finn Juhl’s absolute masterpieces, re...
Category

21st Century and Contemporary Danish Modern Chairs

Materials

Wood, Leather

Finn Juhl Teak Chieftain Chair Ottoma Black Spinneybeck Leather by Baker
By Baker Furniture Company, Finn Juhl
Located in Washington, DC
This 1991, one year production run, Baker Furniture Co. of Grand Rapid Michigan spared no expense, in regards to materials and detail. Outside owning a 1949 Niels Vodder version, thi...
Category

1990s American Scandinavian Modern Wingback Chairs

Materials

Leather, Teak, Walnut

Finn Juhl Pair of Chieftain Chairs by Baker
By Baker Furniture Company, Finn Juhl
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 Niels Vodder, Finn Juhl
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