It’s a drizzly December morning in Copenhagen, but inside the &Tradition showroom and headquarters, it’s the epitome of hygge. In a cosy, candlelit room, journalists have gathered to hear the story of the trailblazing mid-century Danish designers, Peter Hvidt and Orla Mølgaard-Nielsen, as told by those who knew them best – their children and grandchildren. It’s an exciting and deeply personal moment for both families, as a capsule collection of six of Hvid t& Mølgaard’s pieces is unveiled, reissued by &Tradition.
The Danish brand has worked closely with the designers’ relatives, who still use many of the pair’s original items, to ensure the range, which includes two tables, an armchair, side table, chair and lamp, were faithful to the originals. The selected designs exemplify the duo’s signature aesthetic and clever thinking – their style was characterised by simplicity, lightness and precision, while their strategy was forward-thinking (they were some of the first designers to produce flat-pack furniture).
Having joined forces in 1944 to establish their practice Hvidt & Mølgaard, they created everything from furniture to bridges and housing projects, and their experience with both small details and innovative engineering is evident in the reissued pieces. The ‘Pinwheel’ table from 1953, for example, is made up of a series of smaller tables that slot together to form a larger piece. ‘You can tell they were geeks – but in a good way. All the items are defined by good craftsmanship and a love of detail. That’s what makes them timeless and relevant for today,’ says Malene Hvidt, granddaughter of Peter Hvidt, who says the original pieces are hard to come by as ‘people just don’t get rid of them’.
The project also turned up a few surprises; while sifting through the archive, a design for a piano was found, as well as the ‘Tripod’ lamp, sketched in 1953 – this will be its first time in production. A lesson in elegance and poise, its sculptural and sturdy design involves a heavyweight spherical component at its base, which helps maintain constant balance, while its shade is tilted to reduce glare and achieve just the right amount of light.
The ‘Boomerang’ lounge chair, meanwhile, debuted in 1956, is a firm family favourite (the Hvidt family’s original is so popular it’s passed around every few years so everyone can experience it), and is exactly as it was over 60 years ago – a testament to its brilliance. Simple and streamlined at first appearance, considered details such as reversible cushions and a subtly slanted back, employed to maximise comfort, only come to light once used.
‘Functionally, they’re really good pieces of furniture, but they also have a story to tell,’says Malene. ‘It’s so lovely to see them in a new light.’ andtradition.com
This article appeared in ELLE Decoration February 2020
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