Borge Mogensen’s designs reveal
a commitment to simple and highly functional furniture. Born
in Aalborg, Denmark he later studied at the College of Arts
and Crafts in Copenhagen, and then at the Royal Academy of
Fine Arts. Mogensen was apprenticed as a cabinetmaker under
Kaare Klint during his time at the Academy, and this association
proved to be very influential. Klint had been very impressed
with Shaker furniture from America because its utilitarian
premises echoed the functionalism that had taken hold among
designers and architects in Europe. Mogensen embraced similar
ideas in turn.
Many think that Mogensen’s chairs
are based on Shaker prototypes. His “J39,” a wooden,
four-legged, single slat backed design is a good example.
It resembles the “low ladder back” chairs of Shaker
origin. Additionally, Mogensen’s “trestle table”
complements his chairs, and is called by Christian Becksvoort
a “redefined Shaker classic.” These designs were
related to Mogensen’s involvement with the Danish Cooperative
Wholesale Societies’ efforts to create simple, attractive
furniture for everyday use. This type of furniture was very
popular among people who were not interested in designs exhibiting
significant modernist influences. Other of his work is also
worth noting like the “Spanish” chair, which was
praised for its style. Thus, Mogensen was a significant interpreter
of the traditional forms even in the midst of modernizing
and revolutionary changes in production and design.
Besides furniture, Borge Mogensen is
known for tackling the problem of storage in the modern home.
His research produced a detailed manual for building storage
systems containing information tables for drawer and shelf
dimensions based on the size, shape, and number of common
household objects owned by the average family.
A related project that Mogensen worked
on was a shelving system called “Oresund” that
was aimed at providing storage solutions for just these kind
of families. Even so, he continued to design furniture exhibiting
almost every year at the Copenhagen Cabinetmaker’s Guild
Exhibitions. It is in this field that he left his mark.