Danish heavyweights like Hans Wegner and Arne Jacobsen have long resonated with design-savvy homeowners, who easily embraced the sculptural functionalism and fuss-free elegance of their furniture. This increasing awareness of Danish design no doubt led to our very first Danish film festival earlier this year, a series of documentaries that highlighted architects, artists and designers, most notably a sell-out film about furniture designer Borge Mogensen.
Now, one business owner is confident that the popularity of Danish design has developed to the point where buyers are interested in provenance. Lynette Wong opened Singapore based, 1B2G, in July this year, a store specialising in Danish designer furniture made between the 1930s and the 1970s.
“I spend a lot of time hunting down these pieces,” says Wong, who does her buying at trusted online auctions. “Establishing age is crucial so I look for the maker’s stamp. Changing manufacturer also helps you date the piece – those by the original manufacturer will always be worth more.”
It’s hard work but it’s clear that for Wong, the versions being made today cannot compare to their mid-century predecessors. “They used wood like Brazilian rosewood that they can’t use today because of sustainability issues,” she explains. “Also, they didn’t varnish their wood, which allows it to take on a beautiful depth of colour as it ages.” Wong also points out other things that have changed – like chair bases that used to be metal now being made of plastic, or parts that are no longer cast as a single piece.
“It took an experienced weaver three hours to do one of these back in the day,” she says, indicating a Hans Wegner CH23 chair with an intricately woven paper cord seat. “They weren’t churning these things out in the thousands in the ’50s – they spent time on each piece and there was so much more attention given to hand-finishing.”
Not surprising that prices for some of the pieces can range between $20,000 and $45,000. But to Wong, it’s good value, given the tangible – and intangible – advantages of such furniture. “Things with a story are a great way to make your space individual, make it your own.”
Wong spotlights her favourites in the collection.
HANS WEGNER SWIVEL CHAIR
“The wood here feels like it’s all one piece but it’s actually joined. If you don’t dry the wood properly, it will never be so smooth.”