The Spanish Chair 2226
Mogensen’s name rarely crops up outside the world of collectors, designers and dealers and yet he is one of mid-century modern’s most important proponents of furniture design.
As a designer, rather than expecting people to make their interiors fit his furniture, he designed furniture and shelving to fit a family’s needs based on strict mathematical formulas.
He called for high quality and an understanding of the best materials and, by improving and refining existing forms, like his teacher Kaare Klint before him, he led the way for more experimental designers to push design to its limit.
In character, Mogensen was not as strict as his work ethic led people to believe. One story goes that he would ply visitors to his studio with a good homemade dinner with beer and schnapps whilst his friend Hans J. Wegner preferred to give people buttermilk or tea.
Friends from college, Mogensen and Wegner had very different approaches. Mogensen was rational, Wegner was intuitive.
But then came the Spanish Chair, a seat inspired by a very low, traditional, throne-like, Spanish officer’s chair Mogensen spotted while on holiday in Andalucia.
In his mind’s eye he kept the broad armrests, removed the elaborate carvings, and brought in elements of the Hunting Chair he had designed a few years before.
He fashioned a frame out of oak and cut a back and seat out of vegetable-tanned saddle leather, adding straps so the owner could tighten the hide as it expanded with use over time.
While there are elements of the rational, the chair arose from a flash of inspiration and went completely against the mood of the late fifties, when designers Arne Jacobsen and Verner Panton were starting to look at moulding plastic and upholstery into organic forms.
Børge Mogensen instead went straight back to his beloved oak and leather from tanning house Tärnsjö Garveri to produce a chair he had fallen in love with, suggesting that perhaps he was a bit more intuitive and passionate than people gave him credit for.