A Modernist Renaissance: Where to Nab Scandinavian Modern Furniture in Minneapolis

Arne Jacobsen Set of 7 ‘Serie 7’ Chairs- 1955, manufactured by Fritz Hansen, together with one reproduction. Brought $850 at Rachel Davis Fine Arts in 2005

Thanks to stores like IKEA, mid-century modern furniture, and accessories (from the 1930s- 1960s) – with their unique lines and textured fabrics- have made an international design comeback over the past decade. The movement is known as Scandinavian modernism (which encompasses Danish modernism, Finnish modernism, and Swedish modernism) emerged in 1930 during the same period when modernist movements in the U.S. and elsewhere were beginning to form. Its growth was interrupted by Europe’s economic decline and World War II, but the movement reached its height in the late 1950s. Scandinavian modernism continued to influence design trends well into the 1960s, and this aesthetic has experienced a widespread resurgence as of late.

Key designers of Scandinavian modernism included Arne Jacobsen (Denmark), Hans J Wegner (Denmark), Eero Saarinen (Finland), and Borge Mogensen (Denmark). Highly influenced by their design sensibilities, Charles and Ray Eames (USA) brought the clean lines of Scandinavian modernism to the U.S. market in the 1940s and 1950s. Several of these companies, as well as those of lesser-known modern designers, are still producing furniture today.

If you are a fan of this vintage Scandinavian style, it’s relatively easy to find contemporary reproductions of original modern designs; restored pieces from the 50s and 60s are also abundant, especially in larger cities. Ecologically conscious consumers gravitate to the idea of refurbished pieces, seeing as the processes associated with rehabbing furniture are often less detrimental to the environment than those involved with manufacturing and shipping new pieces.

Eero Saarinen; Birch plywood Grasshopper chair;. Sold for $4,750 Rago Arts and Auction Center earlier this year.

For those who favor a mixed and matched look, the organic shapes and clean lines of modern furniture make it easy to collect a variety of pieces that work together. Another benefit to modern pieces is that they are, by definition, functional as well as visually pleasing. Their solid construction, combined with the fact that fabric can be easily swapped out and replaced, and tables can be sanded and re-stained without losing their original luster, makes these pieces a solid choice for homes with active children.

My husband and I were fortunate enough to inherit quite a few Danish modern pieces from our parents. We’ve supplemented them with some great finds from Danish Teak Classics (located in the Northrup King Building in Northeast Minneapolis. Our place has a clean, warm look and we couldn’t be happier.

Where to purchase Scandinavian modern furniture in Minneapolis:

Design Within Reach (throughout the U.S., find a store near you at http://www.designwithinreach.com— the Minneapolis location is in Uptown at Lake and Hennepin) and offers a variety of modern reproductions, including the ever-popular Eames chair.

Danish Teak Classics (Minneapolis, Minnesota, www.danishteakclassics.com). All of the new and original pieces in the Northeast Minneapolis warehouse and showroom are carefully selected (during yearly trips to Denmark) and restored by the owner.

If you are willing to pay the shipping or make the drive to pick up your mid-century treasure, there are great finds on Ebay and Craigslist. This is a great option for shoppers on a budget or those who don’t mind spending a bit of time rehabbing a well-worn piece. Also- don’t forget garage sales. We found a fantastic little teak table for $10 last year that just needed a bit of love.

More information about modern furniture can be found at danishmodernfurniture.org

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