In 1937, the Danish designer Finn Juhl debuted a radical chair at a Copenhagen design fair. With an oversized headrest, angular arms, and low seat, the chair garnered no interested buyers. Plus, it was displayed next to a bar cabinet and posters of cocktails–a setup that viewers deemed provocative and certainly out of step with current fashions, which tended to be more traditional.
Juhl himself purchased the only two chairs he’d made in the style, because no one was interested in buying them–let alone manufacturing them.
Now, more than 80 years later, the House of Juhl design studio–which has the exclusive rights to produce Juhl’s furniture–has finally released the chair, which is called the Grasshopper because its armrests converge on the floor with its back legs, looking almost like the bug when it’s ready to jump. The decades-old chair made its second debut at the Milan Furniture Fair in 2019.
Re-creating the chair wasn’t a straightforward process. Juhl, who was trained as an architect and not a furniture designer, had designed a chair that was in practice very difficult to make because it had so many unexpected shapes and complicated joints and angles.
Even though the House of Juhl had his original sketches for the chair, it took the company nearly 20 years to produce it, in part because the sketches didn’t include the specific angles Juhl had intended. As House of Juhl cofounder Hans Henrik Sørensen writes on the company’s website, it was only after the company’s designers were able to measure one of two existing chairs (one of which sold for nearly $400,000 last year) were they able to replicate the precision of Juhl’s original design.
The Grasshopper will be available in summer 2019 in oak or walnut with either textile or leather upholstery. It retails for $14,939.