On a Road Trip for Danish Modern Furniture

On a Road Trip for Danish Modern Furniture

As Lars Balderskilde drove through forests near Vejle, a town on the fjord about two and a half hours from Copenhagen, the rear credenza of his Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van began to groan.

It was late January, and after crossing a lake full of swans, Mr. Balderskilde stopped at a house where he picked up an old bar cabinet that he paid for in cash. Then stop by other homes to collect nesting tables and mirrors. The sun had set when he met Nina Toft and Greath Coke, two sisters, at the home of their mother, whose funeral he had organized earlier that day.

“It’s always emotional, but you have to let it go,” Ms Toft told Mr Balderskilde, who had come to see the various pieces in the house.

Ms Cock showed them a small clay bird she had made as a girl. “I’ll get you a good deal,” she said jokingly.

Mr. Balderskilde didn’t take the bird. But they filled the van with a teak dresser and bookcase that the sisters’ parents had from the 1950s, a desk, a blue PH 5 Pendant Lamp and a Le Clint 325 Floor Lamp, a model originally designed to decorate the residence of Nobel Prize-winning physicist Niels Bohr. He paid the sisters $1,800 for the items.

Mr. Balderskilde was contacted by Ms. Toft and Ms. Kok a website where he offers to buy furniture From all over Denmark. While moving out of the house, Mr. Balderskilde said to Ms. Toft, “I have a boutique in New York.”

Store, LanobaIndeed is in Jersey City, NJ, and sells refurbished Danish modern furniture, a minimalist style that originated in Denmark that was typically made from natural materials such as wood, leather, and Danish cord from the 1930s to the 1960s.

Mr Balderskilde, 47, who is Danish, and her husband, David Singh, 48, started the business in late 2015. Mr. Balderskilde said she and her husband, who loved to delve into estate sales, have noticed a growing demand for Midcentury modern furniture, especially in the wake of “Mad Men,” the highly stylized 1960s TV show. The final season of which aired in the spring of 2015.

Danish modern design was influenced by the work of Carre Klint, an architect, furniture designer and academic known for “measuring paper, books, tableware and human beings to find optimal proportions for furniture”, exhibitions and collections Christian Holmstedt Olesen, head of the But Design Museum Denmark in Copenhagen. (Mr. Clint’s brother, Tage Clint, founded the Le Clint brand in 1943.)

By the 1960s, furniture had joined the widespread mid-century modern style popularized by American designers such as Charles and Ray Eames, who often mixed wood and leather with materials such as metal and plastic. Among the most notable Danish modern pieces from that decade was a pair of teak and leather chairs by Hans Wegner, which were used Televised telecast of the 1960 presidential debates Between John F Kennedy and Richard Nixon.

The chairs almost took the focus off the debate, Mr Balderskilde joked.

In the 1970s, as the taste for decor changed to what has been described as “plastic luxuries”, Danish modern furniture became less desirable. In Denmark, some pieces were thrown out, according to Mr. Balderskilde, who said that much of the furniture produced in the style’s heyday no longer exists.

“None – None – This stuff was needed,” Mr. Balderskilde said.

By the time Mr. Balderskilde and Mr. Singh started Lanoba, furniture by leading Danish modern designers such as Mr. Wegner, Finn Juhl and Grethe Jalck was in demand. (Mr. Balderskilde noted that few retailers in the United States were offering items by “middle market” designers such as Johannes Andersen and Oommen Joon.) He saw potential in a business that would transport unwanted items from Danish homes to American buyers. even though they had to travel to Denmark to purchase items from individual vendors.

Compiling a list, he said, first required campaigning by fledgling political campaigns. Mr. Balderskilde said, “I talked to a lot of people in the grocery store.” “I knocked on many doors.”

Lanoba’s first sale was a footstool to a psychologist in Manhattan, which Mr. Balderskilde delivered to the buyer’s office. The business has imported thousands of pieces since then, he said; Most of the buyers live in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens.

Mr Balderskilde now has a network of people in Denmark who know what he’s looking for and who help spread the word, and he also finds things on platforms like Facebook Marketplace and the like. dba, a Danish secondhand exchange. He makes three or four sourcing trips a year (Mr Singh stays behind to run the store), on which he tries to collect more than 500 items.

Before the pieces are shipped from Denmark to New York in shipping containers, they are stored in a barn owned by Mr. Balderskilde’s older brother, a cabinet maker who taught him to restore furniture.

The markup on items sold at Lanoba varies — some pieces cost hundreds of dollars, others thousands — and is determined by shipping costs to the United States, Mr. Balderskilde said. That said, sellers in Denmark generally know where the furniture they buy from is.

“It’s not like ‘American Pickers,'” Mr. Balderskilde said, referring to the reality show about antiques sellers buying unwanted items from people who are often unaware of the items’ potential value. . “People know what they have.”

When many offices closed during the pandemic, there was a flood of requests for desks at Lanoba, Mr Balderskilde said. He could not travel to Denmark at the time, so he asked friends and family there to find items for him. At one point, the store received shipments of approximately 250 desks. “They sold out in five weeks,” Mr Balderskilde said.

Lots of buyers appreciate, he said, that the furniture comes from “real Danish homes,” and many sellers in Denmark love what he calls the “saga” of grandma’s furniture reaching brownstones in Brooklyn. Is.

The day after Mr. Balderskilde bought goods from the sisters, he walked to a house in Bryl, a village on the Danish island of Funen, passing a wooden windmill, a metal windmill, and an abandoned mink farm along the way.

The house, which had For Sale written on its lawn, belonged to Lars Eggedal’s parents. Mr. Aggedal was meeting Mr. Balderskilde to show him a desk that Mr. Aggedal’s parents had received as a wedding gift from his grandparents in the 1960s.

Mr Aggedal said his grandmother was not pleased when his parents used that desk, which had a built-in bookshelf, to decorate his brother’s childhood bedroom. “But I think he would have approved of going to New York,” he added.

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