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Why rosewood & teak?

- 20 Jun 2006 -
5 posts / 0 new

it may that there is an obvious answer but I can't find it...why did so many mid century designers, particularly Danish designers produce furniture in teak and rosewood, both of which had to be imported from miles away?


- 21 Jun 2006

Reasons to be teak and rosewood, but also cheerful
Firstly the reason that Danish furniture manufacturers used teak is a rather unusual story.
The Danish King Christian 10th was very good frineds with the Royal Thai family and they had decided between them to arrange a trade-off between Denmark and Thailand.
Denmark was to supply Thailand with high quality goods and services in return for the use of Teak at a very reduced rate.
At first the Danish industry was against this due to the wear on machinery that teak had but the King insisted. With the low cost and strength teak had it became more accepted and soon found favour with Danish industry.

Rosewood on the other hand had already been in use in furniture industry for decades and was used for its beauty and colour.
It was not until the mass felling of the 1950s that it became cheap enough to use in large scale production.
The cost of brazilian rosewood was at that time close to £25pr cubic inch making it extreemly expensive.
So with the large scale felling and export it soon became a popular timber with the Danish industry and others.

It was detrimental of course to the viability of both the rain forrest and the industry that they had moved so quickly and rapidly into this wood that it became a threatend speices.
In 1978 Brazilian rosewood (dalbergiou negro) was officially declared endangered speicies and placed under the protection of CITES.
Today Brazilian rosewood is closely watched by cites and you have to ( if you follow the word of CITES) apply for import and export licenses when trading in vintage furniture made of this wood.
Proof of production and that is has not been taken from a live specimen must be provided.

So there you have it. Brazilian rosewood is so sought after due to its colour and grain but also because you no longer are able to reproduce furniture in this timber.
Hence a thought to the conversation that exist about the reproduction of the Bodil Kjær desk.
Let the discussion consider that a repro wil not be in brazilian rosewood and thus not a true reproduction but a mere replica.

- 21 Jun 2006

Hi Simon,
...or M_Andersen. Is there any evidence to the story that Christian X went as far as inviting a number of furniture designers (Hans Wegner, Borge Mogensen, Arne Jacobsen and maybe more) to the palace and "order" them to use teak and rosewood?
Although very popular because of his defient attitude during the German occupation, to "order" his subjects seems very much in style with the tall king. But other than a hear say from someone close to Arne Jacobsen, I have never seen any confirmation of it. Maybe something to ask Hans Wegner wile he can still answer in person....

- 22 Jun 2006

The other question
that comes to mind is: Amoung the "scandinavian" countries (including Denmark and Finland) the only country that followed Denmarks choice of wood was Norway. There might be some in Sweden and Finland but certainly not to the same extend. Could it be that both brothers (Christian X of Denmark and Haokan...(I forgot his number but it is of course former king Olav's father) of Norway had the same good relationship with Thailand or became one royal brother supplier of the other ???

- 10 Jul 2006

Bodil Kjaer James Bond desk
I think that objections to the reissuing of Kjaer's noted desk are kind of wrongheaded. The design is less than 50 years old. Many furniture periods and designers have been copied and copied again to meet the demand for their successful styling. I have the credenza that goes with this desk (an absolute knockout, by the way), and I corresponded with Kjaer a year or so ago. She stated to me her goals in these designs, which were to provide beautiful and affordably designed furniture not strictly for the few. I say go to town!

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