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Pair of Peter Hvidt & Orla Mølgaard Nielsen "Portex" Armchairs, Denmark 1945

Documentation Ample Provenance
Origin Denmark
Period 1920-1949
Materials Bouclé, wood
Dimensions
W. 24.02 in; H. 31.5 in; D. 24.41 in;
W. 61 cm; H. 80 cm; D. 62 cm;
Condition Good. In good vintage condition. Wear consistent with age and use. The veneer has some light marks and scratches. The chairs have been recently reupholstered in a premium bouclé fabric.
Creation Date 1945
Number of Pieces 2-3
Description This pair of Peter Hvidt & Orla Mølgaard Nielsen designed “Portex” armchairs are icons of functionalist design. While worrying about creating something that is too obviously meant to be stacked, the designer duo managed to create a distinctive and stylish model.

The Portex range of furniture was designed to be exported, so there was a desk where the legs could be unscrewed and shipped in the desk drawer, although this chair, actually, was shipped in its assembled form. The designers even explained the functional aspects that were taken into account in the design:

"While we realized the necessity of being able to dismantle or fold up cupboards, tables and beds during transport, we did not dare use these principles for chairs. {…} A chair must often bear great weight, must be able to tolerate being tilted, and will be moved more or less brutally throughout the day. {…} The stacking principle was chosen since it has the advantage that the chair could be assembled and finished at the factory. The disadvantage was that the known stacking chairs show clear signs that they can be stacked."

The final chair design was inspired by the clear simplicity of Shaker chairs with the added touch of Danish modern design. The premium bouclé upholstery is a great addition to the historically strict functionality of the chairs.

Condition:
In good vintage condition. Wear consistent with age and use. The veneer has some light marks and scratches. The chairs have been recently reupholstered in a premium bouclé fabric.

Dimensions:
24.02 in W x 24.41 in D x 31.5 in H
61 cm W x 62 cm D x 80 cm H

Literature:
DKH Print/Danske kunsthåndværkeres arkiv

About the designer:
Hvidt & Mølgaard was a Copenhagen-based, Danish design and architectural firm which existed from 1944 until 2009. Founded by Peter Hvidt (1916-1986) and Orla Mølgaard-Nielsen (1907-1993), the company was a pioneering force in Danish furniture design and industrialized production in the 1950s, creating furniture that was easy to mass-produce and economic to transport.

Danish architect-designer Orla Mølgaard-Nielsen was born in 1907. His formative years were spent in Copenhagen, studying at the Aalborg Technical School and at the Art and Crafts School of the Design Museum (graduating in 1928). From 1931 until 1934, he continued his studies in furniture design at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts under the instruction of Danish master Kaare Klint (1888-1954). Peter Hvidt was born in Copenhagen in 1916. He studied architecture and cabinetry at the School of Arts and Crafts in Copenhagen. Subsequently, he worked at various design firms before establishing his own studio in 1942.

In 1944, Hvidt designed the Portex Chair, which was one of Denmark’s first stacking chairs. Hvidt, whose design aesthetic was characterized as traditional throughout the 1940s, exhibited frequently at the Cabinetmaker's Guild exhibitions, as both a designer and architect.

In 1944, the pair co-established Hvidt & Mølgaard Studio, which they ran together until 1975. During this time, the pair created designs for Fritz Hansen, France & Søn, and Søborg Møbelfabrik. In 1950, the pair designed the AX Chair, which solidified both of their careers as industrial designers and became an icon of Danish mid-century design. It was the first Danish chair that was crafted with both a seat and back made of curved laminated wood.

From the 1970s, Hvidt & Mølgaard focused on architectural projects, which spanned office buildings and factories, as well as collective housing projects. They were known for their light, simple, and clear designs, which were carried out with precision. Both Hvidt and Mølgaard-Nielsen retired in 1975, designing over 256 pieces of furniture together over the course of their careers. Their work can be found at New York’s MoMA, the National Gallery in Melbourne, and the Danish Museum of Art & Design in Copenhagen. ~H.
Styles / Movements Mid Century, Modern, Scandinavian Modern
Book References DKH Print/Danske kunsthåndværkeres arkiv
Dealer Reference Number 20180122
Incollect Reference Number 431103
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