Feeding into the renewed enthusiasm for mid-20th-century classics, second-hand furniture shops have been ensuring that they have access to a ready supply of vintage pieces. But what if you prefer to enjoy these sleek designs in mint condition?
The original Danish manufacturers of some famous designs have made the decision to put their most memorable pieces back into production to meet new demand, while auction houses have reported strong interest at specialist sales. This has been attributed to the remarkable craftsmanship that habitually went into much Danish furniture, with the best designs being as solidly constructed as anything produced in the Georgian era. Considering that the 1950s and 60s are traditionally considered to mark the beginning of the throwaway age, that is quite a feat.
However, it isn’t only in Denmark that craftsmanship has been enjoying the kind of respect that a heritage industry with a worldwide reputation might reasonably expect. In rural Austria, Team 7 specialises in creating the kind of furniture normally associated with Scandinavian manufacturers. Using sustainable, European-grown hardwoods such as oak, walnut, maple, cherry, beech and alder it has dedicated itself to ensuring the continuation of the clean, simple lines and innovative design of Danish classics.
From the kitchen to the bedroom, it is now possible to equip your home with as much – or as little – mid-20th-century design as you like. From metal-free, solid wood beds and beautiful and ergonomic kitchens to stylish home entertainment units, Team 7 is living proof that classic design will never be out of fashion.
Increasingly homeowners are turning their backs on the concept of cheap, disposable items and are prepared to pay more for products that stand the test of time. With more focus on lavishing money on travel and experiences, there is a corresponding interest in solidly built furniture that will never be out of fashion and can be passed down to the next generation, eliminating the need to refurnish on moving house.
Shoreditch-based Wharfside, which specialises in top quality furniture, much of it designed and constructed in Scandinavia and Austria, has witnessed this resurgence. “We have noticed that many of our clients tend to ask whether pieces can be altered in the case of a move,” says director Jonathan Stewart. “One of the great things about hardwood furniture is its sheer longevity and, with many of our clients also focusing on the environment, it's important to them that companies we work with, like Team 7, have been awarded a wide variety of international conservation certificates, guaranteeing that the materials they use are ethically and sustainably grown.”
Team 7 combines a love and knowledge of wood with a keen eye for innovative and inventive design. Its Magnum table is perhaps one of the best examples of this; with its 2soft technology it can be extended by 100cm with little effort and won a Red Dot Design Award for its groundbreaking combination of aesthetic appeal and clever technology.
“It is typical of Team 7’s modus operandi that this table is available in nine varieties of wood,” says Stewart. “The company’s whole reason for existence is to grow top quality wood that can be transformed into hardwearing, attractive furniture. The team’s vision is that ‘sustainability’ not only includes the manner in which the forest is maintained but that the items made in its factory will be used for many, many years. If you think of the way that furniture was made in the Georgian period then you will get some idea of how serious companies like Team 7 are about not wasting resources.”
Since Team 7 specialises in bespoke pieces, it is up to the customer to decide which wood best suits their home and colour scheme. “We’re on hand to provide advice, of course,” says Stewart. “However, I always tell the client to heed their gut instinct so that even if, say, walnut isn’t the most obvious match with their home, if it’s the material they like best, then they should definitely go with it. Sometimes one well chosen piece is all that is needed anyway, and there is no rule to say that everything must always match.”
Thanks to the power of the internet, an increasing percentage of Wharfside’s clientele is international these days. “The lure of mid-20th-century Danish design is incredible,” says Stewart. “To say that it’s enjoying a renaissance would be to imply that it was once unpopular, but classics from this period have always been in demand. We feel sure that Wharfside will be working with companies like Team 7 to fulfil the needs of homeowners for many years to come.”