Furniture design

The Spanish Chair by Fredericia: when design supports new lifestyles

Ever since Børge Mogensen designed it in 1958, after a trip to Andalucia, The Spanish Chair by Fredericia brought a design revolution in Danish lounge rooms. And now is a global icon

The Spanish Chair designed by Børge Mogensen for Fredericia will be featured in the exhibition THIS IS DENMARK hosted at Alcova for the Milan Design Week 2023 

If you happen to visit historical sites in Spain, you will see a lot of large, low solid wood chairs, often richly decorated and with a leather seat and back. They are part of the Spanish-Arabic handcraft heritage and they come directly from a nomadic culture that preferred this type of no-nonsense, sturdy but beautiful furniture. 

Børge Mogensen (1914-1972) was a pioneer who helped establish Denmark as a culture of furniture design.

In 1958, Fredericia‘s founder Børge Mogensen made a trip to Andalucia, Spain, noticed these furniture pieces, and had a great intuition, starting from a question: what would happen if he was to interpret this ancient piece, coming from a Mediterranean tradition, in a Scandinavian language? 

He proceeded to soften and lighten the wooden structure, redesign the leather seat and generally bring a contemporary look to the seat. 

The Spanish Chair by Fredericia (2)
The Spanish Chair has quite a strong presence, with its solid oak construction and sturdy, high quality leather. Over time, as the leather expands, the adjustable straps can be tightened. Allowing you to sit securely and comfortably from day one – and for the rest of your life. The chair is one of Børge Mogensen’s most celebrated designs, reflecting his unique angle on modernity.

And he understood the potential: discrete, tranquil, essential and durable, The Spanish Chair – in its Northern European look – was going to shape new gestures and habits in Danish home, supporting a more relaxed, comfortable and laid back attitude by design.

A little but meaningful revolution

There is a silent rule that applies when designing lounge chairs and sofas for the Scandinavian market, even today: they have to be compact and not too fluffy, as to allow a vertical and composed posture. 

Of course that doesn’t mean that Danish people do not like to lounge and relax: it is just part of the Scandinavian design habits. 

The Spanish Chair by Fredericia (2)
Visual tranquility, simple lines, robust construction, and natural materials. The design philosophy of Børge Mogensen is beautifully encapsulated in The Spanish Chair, one of Mogensen’s most celebrated designs.

The Spanish Chair’s sturdy presence and wide armrest suggest on the contrary a very comfortable and relaxed seating. The armrest would occasionally become a good place to put a cup of coffee. All over, the chair suggests an informal way of life, while maintaining material quality and design-driven production as its main features. 

The redesign of functional details and the will to protect traditional craftsmanship

Today The Spanish Chair is made of a sturdy wooden construction involving expertly treated solid oak crafted with geometrical precision. Over time the seat and back leather tend to expand and may need to be tightened, so Mogensen added adjustable brass straps to grant durable comfort seating.

Fredericia is a family-owned design company established in 1911. We are co-founders of Danish Modern design and believe in clarity, honest materials and human empathy.

The rustic combination of vegetable-tanned saddle leather with the solid oak frame adds character, achieving a special patina that only becomes more stunning over time.

From a sustainability point of view The Spanish chair focuses on resistance and durability, as well as on the protection of handcraft ecological processes: the leather comes from a Sweden-based saddler, one of the few using vegetal tanning that achieves a typical patina that becomes more and more beautiful over time. 

The Spanish Chair is handcrafted in Denmark, using the highest quality vegetable-tanned leather produced by the tannery Tärnsjö Garveri in Sweden.

This is Denmark exhibition, staged at Alcova during the Milan Design Week 2023, wishes to offer an overview, through 15 selected objects, of how contemporary Danish creators and companies interpret today the key values coming from their national heritage.


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