Design icon: House of Finn Juhl Whisky Chair
A chair designed for whisky connoisseurs; House of Finn Juhl's latest lounge chair is the epitome of luxury.
Delving into their archives, House of Finn Juhl have reintroduced the vibrant Whisky Chair. Designed in 1948 by the master of Danish design Finn Juhl, join us as we walk through the history of this iconic piece.
The daring Finn Juhl
One of Denmark's most influential furniture designers, Finn Juhl defied conventions with his unique approach to his collections. Describing himself as a self-taught furniture designer, his distinct style and lack of concern for critics propelled his bold designs to the forefront of Danish design history.
Studying Architecture at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in the 1930s, an exciting period for modern design, Finn Juhl became exposed to many of the emerging ideas of the time. Alongside his studies, he began work with Danish architect Vilhelm Lauritzen, stepping into the interior design world with work on significant projects such as the Danish Broadcasting House and Copenhagen Airport.
This was where Juhl found his feet in the world of furniture design. His highly sculptural mind was ideally suited to crafting pieces of furniture, and his love of organic forms eventually embedded him into the history books.
An indulgent armchair
Designed in 1948 for the Cabinetmakers' Guild Exhibition of the same year, the Whisky Chair was presented as part of Finn Juhl's concept 'The Living Room of an Art Collector'. Described as 'the most original room at the exhibition', Finn Juhl adorned the space with books and paintings to complement his furniture pieces crafted from deep mahogany and maple.
When taking a glimpse at the original 1948 watercolour designs, Finn Juhl's initial concept shows how the chairs fit perfectly together. The distinct curvature of the right armrest slides almost seamlessly alongside the left armrest of a matching chair – allowing two Whisky Chairs to effortlessly merge into one piece.
Looking back on the exhibition from the present, there's a sense of refinement balanced with a deep masculinity in the lines and angles of the Whisky Chair. With its unusual asymmetry, the chair holds a striking figure, with the larger armrest housing a handmade half-moon-shaped brass tray that those sitting in the chair can unfold.
Finn Juhl's intention for functionality became clear with an exhibition goer remarking, 'The one on the right, which is the widest, has a built-in circular brass tray which can serve as an ashtray as well as providing a place to put one's whisky glass!'.
Despite an enthusiastic reception at the exhibition, Finn Juhl did not see the Whisky Chair go into production. Hans Henrik Sørensen, founder and co-owner of House of Finn Juhl, commented on why this may have been: "He designed freely, without giving the commercial aspect of his creations much thought. However, his designs were always functionally justified. His pieces were often exclusive and certainly not within everyone's reach. For this reason, the Whisky Chair was never put into production during Finn Juhl's life but remained merely a comment to the social democratic Denmark in the late 40s that did not allow for this type of extravagance."
Prior to the 2022 reissue, the Whisky Chair was perhaps better known as the precursor to the hugely popular Chieftain Chair, presented at the same guild exhibition a year later. You can discover more on the story behind the Chieftain in our design icon spotlight.
The Whisky Chair today
Protecting Finn Juhl's legacy and, in turn, refusing to compromise on his values, House of Finn Juhl have revived the design from the archives. "A design such as the Whisky Chair fits perfectly within our collection and the philosophy we ground ourselves in. We now have more than 50 Finn Juhl designs in the collection, and commercial success is not our main focus when choosing to relaunch one of his iconic pieces. Instead, it is our passion to go to the greatest of lengths to recreate the comfort, details, and sensuousness of Finn Juhl's designs." Hans Henrik Sørensen, founder and co-owner of House of Finn Juhl.
Reissued with exquisite materials, the Whisky Chair is hand-upholstered with Kjellerup Væveri's celebrated watercolour fabric and crafted from beautiful American walnut with the characteristic brass feet.
Leaning into the intended functionality of the chair, House of Finn Juhl invites you to take a seat and enjoy a glass of your favourite beverage. Working with Danish glassmaker Mikkel Yerst in Silkeborg, Denmark, the brand has produced a unique mouth-blown glass crafted to fit the chair's brass tray perfectly.
Inspired by Finn Juhl? Visit our designer page to discover the full range of Finn Juhl designs. Need a hand? To talk to one of the Nest team, please email email@example.com, call 0114 243 3000 or send us a message on LiveChat.