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Borge Mogensen

Borge Mogensen (1914-1972) was born in Aalborg, Denmark and studied furniture design at the College of Arts and Crafts in Copenhagen from 1936-38, and then at the Furniture School of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts from 1938-41. He worked in the office of Kaare Klint, and as his assistant at the Royal Academy. From his time with Klint, Mogensen fostered a deep commitment to producing classical, simple and highly functional furniture. He also became interested in researching people and their trends in order to develop domestic objects that were customized to their specific use. Continuing Klint's innovative studies in how the size and proportion of objects should influence their design, Mogensen, collaborating with Grethe Meyer, produced a project called the Boligens Byggeskabe in 1954 which introduced the idea of building shelving and storage units as part of a room, rather than purchasing and placing them in the space. Mogensen did studies to determine the standard measures for common objects, like cutlery and shirts, and how many of each item the average person owned. With this information he developed a set of figures for the base width and depth of drawers and shelves, and his information tables were published as a manual on building storage systems. Between 1955 and 1967 he worked on the related "├śresund"shelving series that took on the mammoth task of solving every storage need that could arise in the modern home.

In addition to mapping out the terrain of home shelves and cupboards, Mogensen was a prolific furniture designer, exhibiting almost every year at the Copenhagen Cabinetmaker's Guild Exhibitions, and was the Head of Furniture Design during the 1940s for the Danish Cooperative Wholesale Society. His furniture, strongly representative of his training as a traditional craftsman, was greatly appreciated by the group of people not yet interested in the ways modernism was changing the structure of furniture and the decorative arts. Mogensen appeased them with his classical designs, but also, in the beginning of his career, subtly began to incorporate new ideas into his traditional forms. He designed a sofa in 1945 with leather ties for dropping down the sides. A 1949 chair, claimed by critics to be "a model for future chairs," used a curved, slightly sloping backrest, cut out along the spine in an organic dew-drop shape. A 1951 interior for the Cabinetmaker's show combined Danish oak with leather upholstery and slate tiling in a way that articulated a new grouping of materials. "This is Where We Live," a family room set he designed in 1953, dealt with the new concept of a living room that would contain a workbench and a sewing table,encouraging members of the family to take part in several activities simultaneously.

By the end of the decade however, Mogensen had re-embraced a more straightforward functionalism that Klaus Meedom, writing about the Cabinetmaker's exhibit, said was "so strict that he has to violate his own rules to be able to breathe freely." A redesigned "Spanish" chair in 1959 was praised for its elegance and materials. He designed a set of simple, sturdy and modest furniture for a seaside cottage in 1959, a very traditional oak table and chair set in 1960 and a set in pine to furnish a "husband's study" in 1962. Mogensen also collaborated extensively with weaver Lis Ahlmann on textile designs, and, after Klint's death in 1954, succeeded him as designer to the Museum of Decorative Arts in Copenhagen.

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