Carl Hansen & Søn
eMAG issue #3
The idea that Copenhagen Airport should showcase Denmark's finest architecture and design is highly relevant today, yet it is a notion that dates back many decades. Commercial aviation evolved rapidly just before the outbreak of World War II, and in the late 1930s, Europe's airfields experienced a veritable building boom, with about 20 new airports popping up across the continent.
Aviation was a shining symbol of the bright future that lay ahead. It was not long before architects turned to modernism - the new design idiom of the time - in designing airport buildings and terminals, with the Tempelhof in Berlin, Le Bourget in Paris, Gatwick in London and Copenhagen Airport among the most successful examples of the style.
Copenhagen Airport, Terminal 3.
Today, airport projects continue to attract the biggest names in architecture, perpetually setting new records in architectural lavishness, structural ambition and monumental scale.
When Beijing hosted the Olympic Games in 2008, the city simultaneously inaugurated a new airport terminal designed by Norman Foster and bigger than Heathrow Airport's five terminals put together.
The recently inaugurated terminal at the Dubai International Airport, designed by Paul Andreu, is considered to be the Middle East's most modern, covering 1,500,000 square meters, or 16.1 million square feet.
Ample daylight and fine details
Copenhagen Airport's unique history has produced a one-of-a-kind construction with special qualities. The first real building went into use in 1939, replacing a wooden structure from 1925. Subsequently, the airport developed gradually under highly competent management, with the finest names in architecture continuing to ensure the highest building, interior design and furnishing standards.
The most important common denominators - natural materials, ample daylight and uncompromising attention to detail - have remained constants throughout.
Architect Vilhelm Lauritzen´s airport terminal from 1939. The entire terminal was in use from 1939-1960 until the new Terminal 2 took over in 1960. Photo: Jens Lindhe.
In the 1950s, there was talk of building a brand new airport on the island of Saltholm in Øresund, the strait separating Denmark from Southern Sweden. But the idea was dropped, and it was decided instead that the existing airport would be expanded through additions.
Today, Copenhagen Airport consists of a series of spaces, each one experienced differently. A new airport would never be built in such a manner, but Copenhagen Airport's history has given it a singular, intimate atmosphere that has become its hallmark. Skillful transformations of buildings and spaces are, after all, key elements of the Danish architectural tradition.
In 1936, architect Vilhelm Lauritzen won the competition to design Copenhagen's first airport building, which was inaugurated three years later.
Several architectural firms have contributed with new buildings and interior design along the way, including Holm & Grut, KHRAS Arkitekter, Schmidt Hammer Lassen and Arkitektgruppen Aarhus.
But one architectural firm in particular - Vilhelm Lauritzen Architects - has been deeply involved in Copenhagen Airport's transformation from the outset, leaving an indelible mark.
The airport's evolution from 1939 to today
In 1936, architect Vilhelm Lauritzen won the competition to design Copenhagen's first airport building, which was inaugurated three years later.
Inspired by Le Corbusier and Bauhaus, Lauritzen succeeded in creating one of the finest examples of functional modernism in Denmark.
The building is designed as a
monolithic construction of in-situ concrete, with supporting
pillars and a light façade. Vilhelm Lauritzen Architects also
designed virtually all the
Inspired by Le Corbusier and Bauhaus, architect Vilhelm Lauritzen succeeded in creating one of the finest examples of functional modernism in Denmark with his airport building.
As early as 1946, the building proved too small, and in 1960 a new airport was built on a different site, also designed by Vilhelm Lauritzen Architects. The 1930s structure subsequently fell into disrepair, its location standing in the way of new building plans. After several years of discussions, it was finally moved about four kilometers to a new location, totally renovated, and ultimately used for business and meeting facilities.
The 1960 building - now Terminal 2 - was exceptionally well conceived and flexibly designed, allowing for the many subsequent conversions brought on by functional requirements.
Inside Terminal 2, designed in 1960 by Vilhelm Lauritzen Architects.
The 2000 construction of the Øresund Bridge linking Denmark and Sweden created the need for further expansion. A number of traffic-related factors, including access to the Øresund Bridge, made the location and design of the new terminal and rail link particularly challenging.
Once again, Vilhelm Lauritzen Architects won the design competition with a large, beautiful construction featuring a curved roof and glass façade supported by an elegant outer steel construction. Terminal 3 opened in 1998 - the third major collaborative milestone between Copenhagen Airport and Vilhelm Lauritzen Architects. The firm has since carried out several other design projects at the airport.
Terminal 3 opened in 1998. The third major collaborative milestone between Copenhagen Airport and Vilhelm Lauritzen Architects.
A single firm ensures a unified result
"Copenhagen Airport is a fascinating study in architectural history in terms of a single firm's development," explains Thomas Scheel, architect and partner at Vilhelm Lauritzen Architects. "The first airport represented functionalism. The second one, designed by the same architect, features the modernist style of the 1960s. In the mid-1990s, we designed Terminal 3, which also incorporates an element of modernism, but times had changed and there was a need for greater architectural identity and expression, which we sought to communicate."
Copenhagen Airport has benefited from the leadership of several visionary managers who realized the importance of maintaining high standards of architecture and interior design. Today, Thomas Woldbye, the airport's CEO, is responsible for maintaining the high quality standards.
The previous CEO, Niels
Boserup, was appointed in 1990, the year the airport became a
limited company, subsequently operating in accordance with
prevailing market conditions. During his 16-year tenure, Boserup
became synonymous with the airport's high standards of architecture
and interior design.
"Building airports is costly, but the basic costs are the same for everyone. When you peel away five percent of a beautiful airport, it becomes ugly. So it is not more expensive to build a beautiful airport," says Niels Boserup, former CEO of Copenhagen Airport.
"Large buildings have a duty," says Boserup. "They must contribute to the surroundings, and it is not expensive to create high quality if the buildings and interior are well thought out. An airport is a complex structure and a non-stop hub of converging functions. Passengers coming and going, changing flights, security, safety systems - and expensive installations everywhere. Building airports is costly, but the basic costs are the same for everyone. When you peel away five percent of a beautiful airport, it becomes ugly. So it is not more expensive to build a beautiful airport."
Niels Boserup: "Our goal was to organize the airport so people could orient themselves without signage. This meant ensuring that wherever possible, there was a clear view of the aircraft."
Boserup continues: "In terms of overall strategy, our goal was to organize the airport so people could orient themselves without signage. This meant ensuring that wherever possible, there was a clear view of the aircraft.
This allowed lots of daylight into the buildings, which is extremely important for people's well-being. Another key ambition was for passengers entering the airport to experience the very best of what we - as a nation recognized for its architecture and design - have to offer."
The use of wood flooring is characteristic for Copenhagen Airport. Vilhelm Lauritzen used wood on the first floors of both the 1939 and 1960 buildings.
"Using wood flooring in a public space seems to go against reason, but the floors from the 1960s proved incredibly durable and still look beautiful," says Thomas Scheel.
"The airport's policy is to use stone flooring on the ground floor where passengers check in with their luggage. When you reach the next floor, you are greeted by a warm, intimate atmosphere that owes much to the wood floors. A wood floor also offers substantial operational advantages. If furnishings or walls need to be removed, it's easy to add new parquet strips that blend in with the existing color scheme."
"Using wood flooring in a public space seems to go against reason, but the floors from the 1960s proved incredibly durable and still look beautiful," says Thomas Scheel.
Collaboration with the finest furniture designers
As far back as 1939, when Vilhelm Lauritzen designed nearly all the furnishings for the original building, Copenhagen Airport has been characterized by the high quality of its interior design elements. Ever since, the airport has employed custom-designed furniture, which Niels Boserup also commissioned. "It would be quite misguided to leave the furniture selection to the airport's finance department," explains Boserup. Furniture delivery may be a tiny part of the overall expenditure, but the right furniture is crucial for the overall impression. Naturally, it has to be comfortable, durable, easy to clean and easy to handle - but it must also express something that adds a special quality to the room and the architecture."
"Another key ambition was for passengers entering the airport to experience the very best of what we - as a nation recognized for its architecture and design - have to offer," says Niels Boserup
Carl Hansen & Søn's TK8 Daybed, designed by Thomas Bo Kastholm in 2009, is one of the airport's more recent designer furniture pieces. The sculptured daybeds are located in Concourse C, where they provide resting places en route to the gates. With its low, simple construction and materials - steel and leather - the TK8 harmonizes beautifully with the interior as well as with the planes and the airport's apron area.
Featuring durable leather upholstery that only grows more beautiful with use, the daybed is extremely robust and easily withstands the airport's demands. The design and size of this multipurpose piece make it ideal for public spaces, where it functions as a resting spot for the many or the few - and stands beautifully on its own.
The design and size of the TK8 Daybed make it ideal for public spaces, where it functions as a resting spot for the many or the few - and stands beautifully on its own. Designed by Thomas Bo Kastholm, produced by Carl Hansen & Søn.
50 years of quality furniture
Hans J. Wegner's Airport Chair, also manufactured by Carl Hansen & Søn, is another piece of furniture that is in perfect harmony with the airport's interior and an excellent example of the airport's long-standing and invaluable collaboration with the finest architects of the day.
As Niels Boserup explains, "Wegner designed his Airport Chair back in the 1960s. The same chairs are still here 55 years later and are indeed the signature chairs in Concourse C. Despite all the wear and tear, the original chairs are still in great shape and just need reupholstering now and then."
"Wegner designed his Airport Chair back in the 1960s. The same chairs are still here 55 years later and are indeed the signature chairs in Concourse C," Niels Boserup.
"Using the right furniture is comparable to decorating with art. The furniture contributes just as much to a space as art and the investment is significantly smaller," Niels Boserup.
With his Airport Chair, available in one-, two-, three- and four-seater versions, Wegner demonstrated that upholstered furniture in a public space can be light and elegant and help make a space visually interesting and inviting. The Airport Chair features a solid beech frame upholstered in either fabric or leather, with the edges of the upholstery covered with steel strips for a streamlined look. The chair's versatility and lightness are an obvious advantage in an airport or other public spaces where groups of furniture must often be moved and rearranged.
"The importance of using well-designed furniture cannot be overstated," says Boserup. "Using the right furniture is comparable to decorating with art. The furniture contributes just as much to a space as art and the investment is significantly smaller."
Hanne Varming's bronze sculpture "Girls" at the Airport leaning over the balcony of Terminal 3.
Niels Boserup. A modernist masterpiece: Architect Vilhelm Lauritzen's Airport Buildings from 1939. (2001, Københavns Lufthavne)
Lisbet Balslev Jørgensen. Vilhelm Lauritzen: A Modern Architect. (1994, Aristo)
Christian Holmsted Olesen. Wegner: bare én god stol.(Wegner: Just One Good Chair). (2014, Strandberg Publishing)
At the inauguration of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center's new Advanced Health Sciences Pavilion, it was deemed that the Center had now realized its vision of 21st century healthcare. Indeed, the new hospital building has set new standards for architecture, interior design and medical facilities in the USA and internationally.
In commissioning the project, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center's goal was to integrate state-of-the-art research in neuroscience and cardiology with teaching and the finest clinical treatment. From the outset, the physical design of the building was a key part of the strategy for achieving the stated objectives. High standards in interior design and architecture are undeniably important parameters in attracting top clinicians and researchers, while a beautiful, inspiring interior is equally important in healing patients.
Cedars-Sinai Medical Centre in Los Angeles.
HOK architects take on a complex task
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center asked the Los Angeles architecture and engineering firm HOK to take on the challenging task of transforming a lofty vision into reality. HOK, which employs 1,800 people and has 24 offices spread across three continents, handles all aspects of planning, construction and interior design.
Among countless other projects, HOK designed the Kaleida Health and University of Buffalo Gates Vascular Institute and the Clinical Translational Research Center in Buffalo, New York.
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center was founded in 1902 by businessman Kaspare Cohn as a small, 12-bed hospital for the Jewish community in Los Angeles. Since then, the non-profit hospital has grown from donations and is today the largest non-profit hospital in the western United States.
The planning of the new, approximately 80,000 square-meter (or 860,000 square-foot) extension began as early as 2006, when HOK's Los Angeles office took on the assignment. The project was not fully defined from the outset and HOK collaborated with nine different user teams in creating the layout of the building.
The Advanced Health Sciences Pavilion incorporates numerous sustainable features that have earned it LEED gold certification status.
An elegant new landmark
Inaugurated in 2013, the hospital's new building in Los Angeles has fully lived up to all expectations and has become an elegant landmark for Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, which lies east of Beverly Hills in an area stretching across 29 acres, corresponding to 16 football fields.
The exterior of the new 11-floor building features a slim, tapered design, with the two lower stories consisting of a sandstone foundation. The building's curved glass façade follows San Vicente Boulevard, the biggest thoroughfare to the Cedars-Sinai Campus.
Clay Pendergrast: "The Wing Chair´s size in groupings of four creates a veritable room for discussions and offers a modicum of visual privacy."
The complex is connected to the neighboring building - a medical center - via walkways on the plaza level and the fifth floor, the latter named the Sue and Bill Gross Skywalk after its donors. Thanks to its orientation, the hospital's north-facing rooms command a superb view of the legendary Hollywood Hills.
The Advanced Health Sciences Pavilion incorporates numerous sustainable features that have earned it LEED gold certification status - among them solar panels and façades that automatically regulate heat intake and glare depending on the prevailing weather conditions.
Clay Pendergrast, design director at HOK Los Angeles, was tasked with designing the new building's interiors.
Together with Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, he and his team established the overall guidelines and, at a more detailed level, the colors, materials, furnishings and lighting - including many feature fixtures supplied by Louis Poulsen.
First and foremost, the interior had to
ensure that on arrival, patients intuitively sensed where to go so
they would not become confused or stressed.
The interior had to ensure that on arrival, patients intuitively sensed where to go so they would not become confused or stressed.
After parking in the adjacent six floor garage, visitors enter the building at street level and take the elevator to the high-ceilinged lobby on the second floor, where they are welcomed at reception. If required to wait, they are directed to the lobby lounge, which boasts a coffee shop and also has an easy access to the pharmacy.
Plentiful daylight and the use of genuine, natural materials were among the other important elements used to create the desired welcoming atmosphere. Various kinds of wood have been used on the walls, counters, panels and furniture - the dramatic lobby ceiling, for instance, is clad in eucalyptus veneer.
Furniture that passes every test
To lend the different sections of the building their own identity, each of the eight floors was assigned its own color scheme and furnishings.
"One way of avoiding sterility is to have as little healthcare furniture as possible. The client wanted furnishings that were impressive, comfortable, and would stand the test of time, while being ergonomic and easy to maintain. A generous budget and the diversity of the program allowed us to specify high-end Danish designs, including Carl Hansen & Søn's leather Wing Chairs and compact bench seating designed by Hans J. Wegner," explains Pendergrast.
"All upholstery and frame finishes for the Carl Hansen & Søn seating were tested by the hospital's facilities department for durability and maintainability, including resistance to staining," Pendergrast adds. "The hospital's infection control department examined all of the upholstery to confirm that it was anti-microbial. All upholstery has to be easy to clean with bleach and maintain its original appearance."
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and HOK selected two lounge chairs and a sofa from Carl Hansen & Søn's portfolio, each honoring the hospital's requirement for versatility and perfectly suited to giving the area its own distinct character.
"The armrests on the sofa series (CH402 & CH403) give a good sense of separation, which is desirable when many people are sitting in close proximity," says Pendergrast.
A chair with personality
The CH402 and CH403 sofas, designed by Hans J. Wegner for Copenhagen Airport in the 1960s, have been used in the lounges and the pharmacy. "The armrests on the sofa series give a good sense of separation, which is desirable when many people are sitting in close proximity. The sofas are upholstered in different fabrics that match the color scheme of the floor in question. Joined in rows, the CH402 and CH403 can be experienced as walls that break up the larger rooms," explains Pendergrast.
He adds, "Hans J. Wegner's Wing Chair was selected for the lounge groupings outside of the Conference Center and Boardroom because this is a more formal, upscale area. The Wing Chair´s size in groupings of four creates a veritable room for discussions and offers a modicum of visual privacy.
Some of the Board Members are in their 70s and 80s and need a comfortable lounge chair that is easy to get in and out of. The arms of the Wing Chair provide sturdy anchors for these senior citizens."
Oculus Chairs are positioned in groups in the periphery of the hospital's main lobby, where it was important to have a chair with a certain volume and distinctive look so it would not drown in the vast room.
"The Oculus Chair simultaneously offers scale, comfort and sculptural uniqueness. It also embraces the sitter and offers privacy - which are great general qualities in a chair, but especially useful and essential in a hospital," Pendergrast concludes.
"Joined in rows, the CH402 and CH403 (sofas) can be experienced as walls that break up the larger rooms," explains Pendergrast.
Clay Pendergrast, the design director of Los Angeles-based architectural design firm HOK, has for thirteen years been responsible for comprehensive portfolio interior projects for the firm's corporate, healthcare, entertainment, science, technology and education sectors of construction.
Here, he shares his thoughts on his work, current trends, and why Hans J. Wegner's pieces work so well in contemporary spaces.
Can you describe the elements that must be present in a room used by many people in order to make it work?
First of all, there must be adequate light - either natural or artificial - to enable people to perceive and understand the space. Daylight and views are a plus and give the occupants relief by expanding their sense of space. Furniture provides comfort and sculptural form. The furniture design and placement reinforces the purpose and character of the space and facilitates proper circulation through the space. Along with the rest of the interior design, the furniture forms should evoke a mood that is appropriate to the functioning of the space, and to the client's brand.
"Along with the rest of the interior design, the furniture forms should evoke a mood that is appropriate to the functioning of the space, and to the client's brand."
How does a building's architecture influence your interiors?
Naturally, the functional, unchangeable parts of the building's interior - such as the available ceiling height, the building core and the exterior fenestration - affect the interior design.
At the beginning of the project, the designer must decide whether the style of the building's exterior will be continued into the interior or if the interior design will juxtapose it. If the client owns the building and, more importantly, if the building has been specifically designed for the client's business, then there should be a close relationship between the exterior and interior design. In such cases, the interior should elaborate on the exterior design.
"Cedars-Sinai Medical Centre, Los Angeles"
Do you have an overarching strategy for selecting furniture for lounges and waiting areas?
Waiting area furniture must be comfortable, beautiful and destinctive. The seating, consisting of chairs and sofas, is best designed as a "family" of pieces that share a similar expression, and should include a coffee table and side tables. But they should also be flexible enough to blend with other pieces of furniture.
The interior design, including the furniture, must convey the client´s hospitality towards his own clients and visitors thereby compensating them for having to wait.
How do you approach the selection of lighting, flooring, color scheme and furniture for a public space?
The client's unique look and feel dictates all of the design elements, including the lighting, color palette, finishes and furnishings. The design must reflect the client's aspirations. The design must have unity, complexity and coherence. All features of the design must reinforce the design concept. High quality craftsmanship is always important, as is ergonomic comfort. Durability is important, too, but some rooms may not be subjected to heavy use and some projects may be leases of 10 years or less. I try to select furniture that reinforces and enriches the style of the project. While I constantly look for new furniture for my projects, classic furniture can create an interesting look, even combined with more contemporary pieces.
"Waiting area furniture must be comfortable, beautiful and destinctive."
Unlimited budgets are rare. Can you describe how economic factors influence your priorities and choices when you design?
The convention of more expensive furniture being specified for public and executive spaces while less expensive furniture is specified for the back of the house and for work spaces is changing in the more egalitarian atmosphere of new technology companies.
Still, I tend to be less cost-conscious in spaces where furniture has the highest impact. To compensate, I choose more economical options for spaces where furniture is necessary but not a feature. This mixture of costs balances the furniture budget. And no matter what the economic landscape, I always offer my clients high-, medium- and low-cost alternatives.
"I tend to be less cost-conscious in spaces where furniture has the highest impact. To compensate, I choose more economical options for spaces where furniture is necessary but not a feature".
Has your clients' - and the general public's - attitude towards public space use changed over the years?
Public spaces have evolved from high-end spaces that convey the success and prosperity of the client's business to more functional, flexible spaces that can grow and shrink with movable partitions - and can serve such diverse purposes as public relations parties, lectures and staff meetings. Another trend is for parts of the client's workspace, such as the coffee bar, to become more of a feature and to merge into the public space to create a livelier, more energetic vibe.
Public space is also becoming more uniquely branded. Beautiful spaces that are empty most of the time are a poor investment of expensive real estate. That type of public space will shrink to the minimum size.
However, clients still want to make a good impression on their customers. Usually, this means wanting to give their public spaces Wow Factor. The designer will continue to have to balance aesthetic, economic, security, and maintenance factors to make the public spaces uniquely representative of their client's aspirational visions of themselves.
"The warmth of his (Hans J. Wegners) furniture materials and softness of his forms are also relatively unusual for modern classics, and align with today's trend of giving workspaces a residential feel".
You have used Carl Hansen & Søn furniture - particularly Hans J. Wegner's pieces - in various projects. Can you tell us why you repeatedly choose his designs?
More than most modern classics, Wegner's portfolio of furniture has two characteristics that resonate in contemporary culture: craftsmanship and the appearance, in most of his pieces, of being handmade.
Both of these attributes subtly refer to the popular idea of the "maker culture." The warmth of his furniture materials and softness of his forms are also relatively unusual for modern classics, and align with today's trend of giving workspaces a residential feel.
Architect Inger Quorning, MAA (Member of Architects´Association in Denmark) worked for Copenhagen Airport for a number of years managing a wide range of construction and interior design projects. Here, she talks about designing the airport's lounges, gates and other passenger zones.
Today, she works as an architect and technical manager at one of Copenhagen's leading department stores, continuing her focus on creating intelligent, human-focused public spaces.
Could you please describe your process and requirements for designing an environment that must accommodate large numbers of people and facilitate movement?
First and foremost, in order to produce the right design for a space, we need a preliminary analysis of its flow, use and functions. An airport's overarching goal is, of course, to provide travelers with the best possible experience. Bearing in mind Denmark's reputation as a strong design nation, we were keenly aware of the need to leave the users of Copenhagen Airport with a "sense of place" - an impression created by the building, the interior design and the choice of furniture.
"...we were keenly aware of the need to leave the users of Copenhagen Airport with a "sense of place" - an impression created by the building, the interior design and the choice of furniture."
How do you view and establish the connection between a space and its décor?
The furnishings usually reflect the physical environment they are part of: whether the space is a home, a company headquarters, a restaurant or an airport.
The furniture should reflect and express the function and the environment it is part of.
What do you look for in furniture destined for lounge or waiting areas?
Furniture that will be subjected to very intensive use must be of first-rate quality. This means using sturdy structures and durable materials. The design must also be thought-through from the point of view of use and maintenance. If a seat breaks, it must be replaceable, and it helps if the client can replace it himself. Textiles must be durable and very robust for cleaning purposes. Leather upholstery is often suitable and has worked very well at the airport for many years.
"Furniture that will be subjected to very intensive use must be of first-rate quality. This means using sturdy structures and durable materials."
What other design elements play key roles in your interiors and why?
Here in the Nordic countries, we are generally very happy to let as much daylight as possible into our homes, care facilities, workplaces and so on, whereas people living in countries further south aren't always quite as eager to let strong sunlight in.
I always try to integrate as much daylight as I can into my projects. For example, in an airport, many passengers like to have a good view, watch the planes, and soak up some sunlight before getting on a plane and sitting for many hours.
"I always try to integrate as much daylight as I can into my projects."
Light and a view of the planes also help passengers orient themselves and navigate the passenger terminal areas. At Copenhagen Airport, the fact that each concourse features its own distinctive chairs also helps people find their way around.
How do you choose furniture for a public space?
I definitely try to choose furniture that harmonizes with the surroundings. The long trek through Concourse C at Copenhagen Airport, for example, is accentuated by horizontal panoramic windows that visually prepare the traveler for the upcoming journey.
In this case, it was natural to select furniture that supports the horizontal movement: Thomas Kastholm's Daybed. The Daybed's structure and profile "communicate with" Wegner's Airport Chair, beautifully complementing both the interior environment and the visible external areas with planes and airport aprons.
The Daybed is a modern piece of furniture that signals a new era of convenience, comfort and luxury. People can sit here alone, with their travel companions, or family - or share the space with other travelers. It's a democratic piece of furniture on the traveler's terms! If you're lucky, you may even get the chance to lie down and stretch out for a moment.
"The chair's ultra-modern style and structure make it both highly practical and strong, not only in its function but also in its expression, which remains contemporary to this very day."
"The Daybed is a modern piece of furniture that signals a new era of convenience, comfort and luxury. People can sit here alone, with their travel companions, or family - or share the space with other travelers."
You have used Carl Hansen & Søn furniture - and Hans J. Wegner pieces in particular - in a number of projects. What are your main reasons for choosing Wegner?
Well, Wegner's Airport Chair, for instance, has been a permanent fixture at Concourse C since its creation in the 1960s. The chair's ultra-modern style and structure make it both highly practical and strong, not only in its function but also in its expression, which remains contemporary to this very day.
Hans J. Wegner's Airport furniture series, here sofa CH403, was originally designed for Copenhagen Airport and has been a part of the interior in Concurse C since the 1960s.
Do you think public spaces, and particularly the furniture used in these spaces, will change in the future? If so, how?
Functionality, aesthetics and economy will always be high priorities. Sustainability plays a big role today and will become increasingly important in the future, when the recyclability of various elements of a piece of furniture may well become a design parameter.
As you approach the building, you experience its façade as a giant iceberg in nuanced greens. When you draw closer, the contrast between the façade's enormous organic shapes and the surrounding rectangular concrete buildings becomes even more pronounced.
Past the main entrance in the middle of the glass façade, you find yourself in a unique, 21.6-meter-high atrium. It is precisely this element - the halfway point between inside and out - that is so central to Kisho Kurokawa, the architect behind the unusual building.
National Art Center, Tokyo.
The National Art Center, Tokyo was inaugurated in 2007 as the fifth in a series of art institutions commissioned by the Japanese government under the umbrella of the Independent Administrative Institution National Museum of Art, with the other museums located in Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka. The idea behind the National Art Center, Tokyo was to create an exhibition venue that could accommodate various exhibitions.
With millions of visitors every year, the 14,000-square-meter (or 150,700-square-foot) exhibition space became an immediate success. A Monet exhibition in the National Art Center's inaugural year proved that over 700,000 people visited the exhibition.
The architecturally simple yet dramatically effective features that characterize the building are matched by the continuous and cool glass, steel and concrete.
The museum's celebrated architect
Kisho Kurokawa Architect & Associates, the firm that won the project, is a renowned group of architects with a long list of prestigious global projects to its name.
Over the years, the firm has designed and built a total of ten art museums, including the Saitama Prefectural Museum of Modern Art in Japan and the new wing of the Van Gogh Museum in the Netherlands.
Kisho Kurokawa. Photo by Noboru Murata
The five-floor National Art Center, Tokyo comprises more than ten pillarless exhibition rooms between the first and third floors, each offering almost 2,000 square meters (12,500 square feet) of floor space and five-meter (16.4 foot) ceilings - with one room measuring eight meters (26 feet) floor to ceiling.
The enormous south-facing atrium provides an appealing contrast to the rectangular, functional exhibition rooms, and as the Center operates a policy of free admission to enter, except exhibition rooms, it is a freely accessible space that can be enjoyed by all.
In addition to his extensive portfolio of building projects, Kisho Kurokawa has also been influential in an intellectual capacity.
In his many books on architecture and architectural theory, he has criticized the West's global dominance under the guise of modernization and industrialization, and has encouraged the West to reassess the values inherent in the original, Japanese architectural tradition.
The Salon de The Rond, the museum's spacious cafe, is located atop one of the two inverted cones in the large atrium.
Inspired by traditional Japanese architecture
A key element in traditional Japanese homes - and one that fascinates Kurokawa - is 'engawa', the veranda, which the National Art Center, Tokyo atrium interprets on a grand scale. 'Engawa' is regarded as neither indoor nor outdoor space. It is exposed to the elements, but when the paper-covered sliding doors slide open, it doubles as an extension of the house.
The façade of the National Art Center, Tokyo's atrium is made of glass suspended from supporting steel posts interspersed at a distance of two meters (6.5 feet) from one another. The façade itself consists of horizontal rows of glass louvers that prevent direct sunlight from entering the building, creating a fine balance between openness and seclusion.
The large atrium features two inverted concrete cones several floors high - one large, one small - with walkways extending from their plateaus across the atrium to the exhibition areas.
The interior's warm tone is achieved through the use of wooden floors and the predominantly Danish furniture, supplied in part by Carl Hansen & Søn.
The architecturally simple yet dramatically effective features that characterize the building are matched by the continuous and cool glass, steel and concrete. The same materials have also been incorporated into the atrium, which is conceived as a semi patio by connecting interior space with outdoor areas through glass facade.
The interior's warm tone is achieved through the use of wooden floors and the predominantly Danish furniture, supplied in part by Carl Hansen & Søn.
Furniture in natural materials
Along the atrium's wavy glass façade, the Center chose to install Wegner's CH008 round tables and CH07 Shell Chairs, which were first introduced in 1963 and reintroduced by Carl Hansen & Søn in 1998. The chair is strictly geometric in its construction, while the frame's flowing lines are decidedly organic.
Although the precise form frames and gently envelops the chair's occupant, the low, wide seat in no way limits freedom of movement. The chair's exceptionally expressive design beautifully plays up the organic shape of the building's façade.
Along the atrium's wavy glass façade, the Center chose to install Wegner's CH008 round tables and CH07 Shell Chairs.
The Shell chair's exceptionally expressive design beautifully plays up the organic shape of the building's façade.
The Center's library is furnished with Wegner's CH20 Elbow Chair and the CH54 stool in the same light-colored wood used for the bookshelves. The floors, ceilings and pillars are white, and here, too, the furniture serves as a warm contrast.
Wegner's CH25 lounge chair can also be found in two areas of the museum, including side by side in long rows along the glass façade in the atrium, allowing visitors to enjoy an unhindered view of the trees in the National Art Center, Tokyo garden.
The CH25 lounge chair by Hans J. Wegner along the glass façade in the atrium. The CH25 was one of Wegner´s first designs for Carl Hansen & Søn and has been in continous production since it was first created in 1950.
The Salon de The Rond, the museum's spacious cafe, is located atop the smaller of the two inverted cones. An open extension of the atrium, the café is devoid of decoration to ensure that nothing detracts from the experience of the dramatic architecture.
The furnishings consist of square tables positioned around the central kitchen and oak Wishbone Chairs, whose organic design provides the perfect foil to the geometric precision of the 82-guest café.
The Wishbone Chairs organic design provides the perfect foil to the geometric precision of the 82-guest café, The Salon de The Rond.
Mutual cultural inspiration
That the National Art Center, Tokyo chose Danish furniture comes as no surprise. Danish and Japanese architecture and design philosophies have much in common - a fact that is reflected in both cultures' traditional use of genuine, natural materials in simple designs.
In Denmark, the strong Japanese influence can be seen in a number of iconic wooden houses dating back to the 1950s, designed by such architecture and design greats as Jørn Utzon, Erik Christian Sørensen and Halldor Gunnløgsson. Conversely, Danish design - not least Carl Hansen & Søn furniture, designed by Denmark's finest furniture designers and known for its superb craftsmanship - has long held strong appeal for the Japanese market.
The idea behind the National Art Center, Tokyo was to create an exhibition venue that could accommodate various exhibitions. With millions of visitors every year, the 14,000-square-meter exhibition space became an immediate success.
Kisho Kurokawa. Intercultural Architecture, The Philosophy of Symbiosis. (1991, Aia Pr.)
Kisho Kurokawa Architects and Associates, Selected and Current Works. (2006, Images Publishing Group)
Kisho Kurokawa. Rediscovering Japanese Space. (1989, Shambhala Publications Inc.)
Suzanne Greub and Thierry Greub (Editors). Museums in the 21st century. Art Centre Basel, Switzerland. (2007, Prestel)
Christian Holmsted Olesen. Bare een god stol (Just one good chair) (2014, Strandberg Publishing)
The buildings' spatial organization has been radically altered, with the number of residences reduced by about 60 to 193. The apartments have been enlarged and made more contemporary.
While it seems a given that nursing homes would strive to accommodate their residents´different preferences for the décor that surrounds them, this is rarely the case. Unfortunately, when it comes to interior design, modern nursing homes tend to adopt an impersonal and institutional style. All the more reason, then, to rejoice over the newly renovated nursing home in Fælledgården, Copenhagen, which acknowledges human diversity and different tastes when it comes to design.
Danish architect firm JJW Arkitekter was tasked with transforming the run-down 70s buildings into a well-functioning home for residents. Tinne Ottosen, the interior architect responsible for rethinking the common rooms, had two keywords for the project: quality and variety.
Fælledgården is situated in the Østerbro district in northern Copenhagen. The nursing home comprises two five-story wings angled slightly towards one another.
As part of the project, a building between the two wings was demolished, making room for a pleasant courtyard area with a large, lush garden, and a new five-story glass building connecting the two wings was erected at the back of the courtyard.
Fælledgården's location was an asset from the start.
The nursing home merges beautifully with the surrounding blocks of
buildings, making residents feel they are an integrated part of the
"We wanted to create a nursing home that can support the needs that arise when you bring together people who come from a life in their own home and who are used to being a part of urban life," Ole Hornbæk, owner and architect, JJW Arkitekter.
From an architectural perspective, however, the complex has been thoroughly transformed. The new slate cladding on the outer façades gives the buildings a darker appearance, similar to that of the surrounding brick houses. On the courtyard side, the buildings have been plastered in a light color to accentuate the airy garden atmosphere. Numerous new balconies break up the façades - and are a great addition to the residences.
As part of the renovation, the buildings' spatial organization has been radically altered, with the number of residences reduced by about 60 to 193. The apartments have been enlarged and made more contemporary, with new residences on the roof making up for lost square meters.
The new slate cladding on the outer façades gives the buildings a darker appearance, similar to that of the surrounding brick houses.
The Fælledgården renovation reflects JJW Arkitekter's philosophy on housing for Copenhagen's elderly. "We have tried to let the buildings express the individuality and the sense of community that are present in a healthy, caring society," explains JJW Arkitekter owner and architect Ole Hornbæk.
"We wanted to create a nursing home that can support the needs that arise when you bring together people who come from a life in their own home and who are used to being a part of urban life. At the same time, we have rethought the physical interior, flexibility, working environment and sustainability."
Ole Hornbæk, owner and architect at JJW Arkitekter.
The thoughtfully conceived outer framework naturally had to be supported by a new approach to the interior design of the common spaces. Here, Tinne Ottosen began by questioning the way nursing homes are normally designed. "I want to make living in a nursing home much more attractive," explains Ottosen. "It should be a cozy, homey place that embraces diversity. There must be room for the individual and it should reflect that we have led different lives and therefore have different lifestyles.
With its 17,000 square meters of floor space and 15 common areas, it has been crucial to avoid uniformity at Fælledgården. Many of the residents don't leave the confines of the building so the complex must offer variety and experiences within its own walls. The varied interiors also make it easier for residents to find their way around."
Each floor has its own unique and very personal expression - much like private homes. The choice of furniture also counteracts the sense of being in an institution.
The quest for variation led to the concept of creating an independent theme for each of the five floors.
"We took the diversity of the local neighborhood, Østerbro, as the starting point, because many of the residents were born and grew up in this part of Copenhagen," says Ottosen. "It's a mixed neighborhood with many different people with different stories, whose lifestyles vary accordingly."
The chosen themes for the five floors are 50s style, royal rococo, a bright and colorful tribute to Karim Rashid, Nordic minimalism, Bohemian style, and, finally, a classic modern style on the ground floor. Throughout the complex, these themes have guided the selection of wall color schemes, wallpaper, and furniture wood and upholstery. As a result, each floor has its own unique and very personal expression - much like private homes. The choice of furniture also counteracts the sense of being in an institution.
Tinne Ottosen, Interior architect on the project.
"The high-quality, unusually well-crafted wood has a silky finish that stimulates another human sense - that of touch - which benefits everyone, particularly residents who are visually impaired," concludes Ottosen.
The large common coffee lounge on the ground floor looks out onto the garden, which can be viewed through the large window section. However, it is just as pleasant to sit along the back wall, where an expansive wallpaper design by Tinne Ottosen covers the entire wall and features a wealth of beautiful images with motifs ranging from Tivoli and Hans Christian Andersen´s fairytales to stamps and huge Flora Danica poppies.
People can sit at the round tables in white-painted Wishbone Chairs designed by Hans J. Wegner, which provide a peaceful contrast to the image-rich wallpaper. Cushions upholstered in fabric resembling wool - but which is in fact a specially developed, dirt and stain-resistant textile - have been added to the Wishbone Chairs.
"The advantage of choosing classic furniture lies in its ability to trigger recognition - which is extremely important in a nursing home - and the valuable sense of luxury it conveys.
"The advantage of choosing classic furniture lies in its ability to trigger recognition - which is extremely important in a nursing home - and the valuable sense of luxury it conveys. The residents are delighted when they see the Wishbone Chair they know so well. The chair's comfort is, of course, equally important for older people. The Wegner CH46 armchair, for example, is great for the residents, as it is not too deep and its armrests make it easy to get into and out," says Ottosen.
The Wegner CH46 armchair, for example, is great for the residents, as it is not too deep and its armrests make it easy to get into and out," says Ottosen.
The Bohemian floor features wallpapers with various distinctive, graphic patterns - atypical for a nursing home - and Ole Wanscher-designed chairs well suited to the needs of Fælledgården's residents.
"The Colonial Chair is a beautiful chair that is also comfortable for elderly people. It can serve as both a dining room chair and an armchair, with the occupant sitting comfortably on a fixed cushion in an upright position," says Ottosen. "The high-quality, unusually well-crafted wood has a silky finish that stimulates another human sense - that of touch - which benefits everyone, particularly residents who are visually impaired," concludes Ottosen.
"The Colonial Chair is a beautiful chair that is also comfortable for elderly people. It can serve as both a dining room chair and an armchair, with the occupant sitting comfortably on a fixed cushion in an upright position," says Ottosen
The relaunch of the Metropolitan Chair, presented at last year's Milan Furniture Fair, represented a very important moment in the evolution of iconic Danish furniture design. The chair, which takes its name from the world-famous museum on New York City's Fifth Avenue, was the brainchild of Ejner Larsen and Aksel Bender Madsen, who set out to create the ultimate embodiment of beauty and comfort. Exhibited for the first time in 1949, the chair is now part of Carl Hansen & Søn's portfolio in a version faithfully restored to meet the appearance, craftsmanship and overall quality requirements the designer duo laid out 66 years ago. The chair is available in oak or walnut with saddle leather upholstery in natural, cognac or black.
The Metropolitan Chair by Ejner Larsen & Aksel Bender Madsen, originally designed in 1949, relaunched in 2014 by Carl Hansen & Søn.
Ejner Larsen and Aksel Bender Madsen.
Along with Hans J. Wegner, Mogens Koch, Børge Mogensen, Ole Wanscher and Poul Kjærholm, Ejner Larsen (1917-1987) and Aksel Bender Madsen (1916-2000) were both key figures among the 20th century designers who put Danish furniture design on the global map.
Independent yet intertwined lives and careers
Trained as furniture upholsterer and cabinetmaker, respectively, Ejner Larsen and Aksel Bender Madsen met while studying at The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts. Here, like nearly all the influential furniture designers of the time, they studied under leading Danish designer Kaare Klint.
Larsen and Bender Madsen established their own independent careers through various positions in the private and public sectors, each becoming responsible for the interior design and maintenance of various buildings. Both taught at The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, where Bender Madsen introduced new, experimental working methods to his students, among them the young architect Jørn Utzon.
Larsen and Bender Madsen's acquaintance developed into a close friendship and working partnership that lasted until Larsen's death in 1987. The men and their families lived just two houses apart in a townhouse complex in the Copenhagen suburb of Gladsaxe.
Bender Madsen's daughter, Marianne Lorentzen, and Ejner Larsen's son, Niels Larsen, both recall the two meeting almost every night after dinner at one of their homes. With the evening's work agenda complete, the men would be joined by their wives, and the families would drink tea and carry on conversations late into the night.
Over the years, Larsen and Bender Madsen designed approximately 300 works together, including a Cuban mahogany storage table with silver hinges for pipes and tobacco for King Frederik IX of Denmark.
A storage table for pipes and tobacco designed by the duo for King Frederik IX of Denmark.
Exhibiting furniture in Copenhagen
Starting in 1947, the duo exhibited their work at the Copenhagen Cabinetmakers' Guild Furniture Exhibition, which, since its inception in 1927, had become a laboratory for collaboration between master cabinetmakers and the leading architects of the day. The exhibitions contributed immensely to Larsen and Bender Madsen's development. Shortly before his death, Bender Madsen said in an interview with the Danish Museum of Decorative Art (known since 2011 as Designmuseum Danmark): "What we exhibited at the Copenhagen Cabinetmakers' Guild Furniture Exhibitions was very much in keeping with the teachings of Kaare Klint - functional and natural, with the requirements determining the design."
"What we exhibited at the Copenhagen Cabinetmakers' Guild Furniture Exhibitions was very much in keeping with the teachings of Kaare Klint," Aksel Bender Madsen
In 1949, Larsen and Bender Madsen were ready to exhibit the soon-to-be Metropolitan Chair. The design incorporated a tensioned veneer backrest, a new technique inspired by a lamination course Bender Madsen had taken in Oslo, Norway.
The chair was extremely well received by journalists and the general public alike, becoming the duo's greatest success.
In the magazine København (Copenhagen), architect and journalist Ellen Bisgaard wrote about the exhibition setting the chair was part of:
"Architects A. Bender Madsen and Ejner Larsen's Gaming Table is crafted from teak. Cabinetmaker Pontoppidan's name stands for quality. The chairs are quite simple in their construction, but are completely new in form - with a form-pressed veneer backrest that extends to form the armrest. It is an unusually attractive solution to the bridge chair, which must neither be too stiff nor too comfortable."
The Arts of Denmark in New York
The chair was put into production by cabinetmaker Pontoppidan in 1950, and was subsequently produced by different manufacturers in cherry, teak, walnut and oak. Cabinetmaker Willy Beck took over the manufacturing in 1959, and one year later the chair made its international breakthrough at the exhibition 'The Arts of Denmark' at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The exhibition was initiated by The National Association of Danish Crafts and formed part of a major culture and export campaign that included guest appearances by The Royal Danish Ballet and a visit by the King and Queen of Denmark. Later, The Metropolitan Museum purchased the chair, lending it its name. Georg Jensen Inc., the chair's US distributor, exhibited the chair in its Fifth Avenue store during the weeks of the export campaign.
A Danish news article covering the duo´s successful trip to New York City. Chase Manhattan Bank purchased 450 pieces of the chairs for its New York headquarters.
While on exhibit in New York, the Metropolitan Chair was also shown at Palazzo dell´Arte in Milan as part of the Triennial. Chase Manhattan Bank purchased 450 of the chairs for its New York headquarters, and the chair was also selected for the new Danish embassy in Washington, DC. In Denmark, Larsen and Bender Madsen had long been established as top names in the furniture industry, so the breakthrough came as no surprise. Journalist Hartung-Nielsen wrote in BT, a Danish daily newspaper: "With its logical solutions to construction challenges and its superbly crafted execution, the chair is equally characteristic of both Madsen and Larsen and cabinetmaker Willy Beck. It represents not only the highlight of Ejner Larsen and Bender Madsen's design career but also the highlight of Danish furniture design and craftsmanship in general."
Carl Hansen & Søn recreates the original
Decades had passed since its international breakthrough, yet interest in the Metropolitan Chair had not waned. The manufacturing process, however, was extremely time consuming: it took a week to produce a single chair, a fact that was reflected in the chair's price tag, not to mention sales figures.
Since 1987, the chair had been manufactured by furniture maker Niels Roth Andersen. In 2014, Carl Hansen & Søn acquired the company along with its entire furniture portfolio - the main reason for the acquisition being the opportunity to introduce a new chapter for The Metropolitan Chair.
Working closely together with Marianne Lorentsen and Niels Ejner Larsen, Carl Hansen & Søn began the intricate process of recreating all the fine details of the chair, many of which had been lost over the years.
Although Carl Hansen
& Søn continues to manufacture the chair by hand, the factory
has developed a series of new tools that have improved and
optimized several work processes. As a result, the chair is now
available at a far more competitive price.
In 2014 Carl Hansen & Søn
acquired Danish furniture maker Niels Roth Andersen who had been
manufacturing the Metropolitan Chair since 1987. A long process now
began of recreating all the fine details of the chair, many of
which had been lost over the years.
An eye for detail
When a piece of furniture is crafted by four different manufacturers over a period of more than six decades, it quite understandably changes along the way.
"Even though drawings existed, we carefully analyzed four chairs from four different manufacturers to decide on the right version. The slope of the backrest had changed and had to be readjusted in any event as we are roughly 10 cm taller today than when the chair was originally designed 66 years ago," explains Jesper Bruun, development manager at Carl Hansen & Søn.
The chair's seat consists of a wooden frame with bone-shaped sides, providing the ideal transfer of weight from the seat to the legs.
When viewed from the front, the gentle curvature of the seat originally resembled a smile, but had flattened out over the years. Today, the curve has been properly restored.
"Upholstering the seat so it doesn't end up looking like a drum skin requires very special skills mastered by just two of the employees in our Aarup factory," explains Jesper Bruun
The Metropolitan Chair's seat consists of a wooden frame with bone-shaped sides, providing the ideal transfer of weight from the seat to the legs.
"The seat is covered with 25 mm foam, which in turn is upholstered with saddle leather. It's not a chair one should sink into, so the foam must be highly compact. Upholstering the seat so it doesn't end up looking like a drum skin requires very special skills mastered by just two of the employees in our Aarup factory," explains Jesper Bruun.
Another important detail that had changed along the way was that the stitches used to sew the saddle leather had become longer. These stitches are now, once again, four to five millimeters long, and although this takes more time to execute, it results in a more beautiful finish.
The original chair's leather edges were also marked with a fine line of red wax. The color had changed over the years, but has now been restored to its original shade. Finally, when viewed from the front, the gentle curvature of the seat had originally resembled a smile, but had flattened out over the years. Now, the curve has been properly restored - and the smile has returned. And with good reason!
The stitches used to sew the saddle leather had become longer over the years. These stitches are now, once again, four to five millimeters long, as originally intended.
The original chair's leather edges was originally marked with a fine line of red wax. The color had changed over the years, but has now been restored to its original shade.
Edited by Jalk, Grete. (Ed.) 40 Years of Danish Furniture Design: the Copenhagen Cabinetmakers' Guild Furniture Exhibitions. (1987, Teknologisk instituts forlag)
Holmsted Olesen, Christian; Masterworks: 100 Years of Danish Furniture Making. (2000, Nyt Nordisk Forlag/Det danske Kunstindustrimuseum)
1960. Volume 33. "The Arts of Denmark". Danish Furniture Design, 7-8.
Hartung-Nielsen, (October, 1960). "Madsen & Larsen" BT.