“Scandinavian design has always combined form, function and feel,” says Jill Dienst, owner of Dienst + Dotter Antikviteter in New York’s Noho neighbourhood. Specialising in Nordic pieces from the early baroque period to the present day, Dienst + Dotter draws an international clientele in search of timeless, expertly curated furnishings that are “comfortable, organic and have an elegant but practical aesthetic,” says Dienst. “Made of natural materials and without unnecessary adornment, these pieces work as beautifully in an opulent 18th-century interior as a minimalist Manhattan loft.”
Set in a former warehouse with soaring ceilings, simple pine floors and lots of light, the space has served as a “clean, meditative shell” for Dienst’s exquisite furniture, lighting, paintings, sculpture, ceramics and assorted objets d’art since 2011. The serene room is informed by artists such as Donald Judd and Dan Flavin, as well as by the work of modernist architect and friend John Pawson. But what sets Dienst + Dotter apart is the creativity and passion behind the combinations on display. “I love to marry pieces,” says Dienst. “A Swedish rococo commode juxtaposed with a midcentury-modern Danish chair, a vignette of extraordinary taxidermy and a 16th-century Dutch painting creates a symphonic feast for the eyes.”
Drawing on her training in the European Paintings department at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, as well as stints working for antiques dealer Didier Aaron (where “scholarship met commerce”) and later for fêted Paris-based interior designer Jacques Grange, Dienst is perpetually on the hunt for spectacular rare acquisitions from northern Europe. Recent finds include a Kaare Klint chair ($24,000), complete with its original sketches (“a euphoric moment”), and a regal, early baroque armchair (price on request) by Burchardt Precht (once cabinetmaker to the Swedish royal family), each capable of doubling as a striking piece of sculpture.
Dienst delights in detailing an item’s provenance. From antique Gustavian chairs ($12,500) and exquisitely gilded neoclassical Sulla chairs (from $10,000) designed to brighten dreary rooms, to a Poul Henningsen copper and frosted-glass pendant light ($28,500) and a stunning 18th-century rococo chandelier ($75,000), the common thread throughout is elegance and a strong sense of history. Among Dienst’s most unusual finds are an antler-embellished oak “fantasy cabinet” ($30,000) made in 1850s Germany, a 19th-century Danish wicker blombord ($8,000) and an enormous, contemporary Tage Andersen quail birdcage (price on request) in steel, brass and waxed twine.
“The antiques and objects here are meant to be used in a modern way,” says Dienst. “We all want places where our friends and family can come together. Dienst + Dotter is an atelier of escape and fun, where customers can revel in the world I have created and, if they feel inspired, take a bit of it home with them.”