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Chieftain Chair
Iconic Designs

Chieftain Chair

About the Design

Finn Juhl (1912–89) is often credited with having played a pivotal role in the excitement around Danish modern design that swept through the United States during the 1950s. Juhl’s sculptural Chieftain chair, which he designed in 1949, was considered a renewal of Danish design traditions and is a long-celebrated milestone in the furniture maker’s legacy. Mid-century Scandinavian design emphasized warm woods, gentle lines and subtle curves, and while Juhl designed the Chieftain chair with those high standards in mind, modern art was his biggest inspiration.


Years before Juhl completed the Chieftain chair — his most desired piece of furniture in a long and groundbreaking career — the Danish designer was frequenting museums and on a path to study art history. Instead, at his father’s request, Juhl pursued a degree in architecture at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen. He worked at architect Vilhelm Lauritzen’s firm, collaborated on chairs with cabinetmaker Niels Vodder and opened his own practice in 1945. Along with a group of other young Danish craftsmen such as Hans Wegner and Arne Jacobsen, Juhl sought to reawaken the idea of design in their country, pioneering the use of teak in furniture making and going on to create expressive, experimental pieces like the Chieftain.


Juhl’s award-winning Chieftain chair, upholstered in leather with its high back and organically curving armrests, is an imposing piece that dominates in both size and extravagance, but also requires a significant amount of space around it. “Perhaps I had a vague idea for some time that I wanted to design something bigger,” Juhl said of the teak chair, the form of which references Egyptian furniture and tribal art. The original armchair was in production for a very short period at Baker Furniture and elsewhere over the years. It was relaunched in 2002 by House of Finn Juhl / One Collection. Original versions of the beloved Chieftain chair rarely sell for less than six figures at auction.

Chieftain Chair

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Finn Juhl Pair of Chieftain Chairs by Baker
By Finn Juhl, Baker Furniture Company
Located in Highland, IN
Finn Juhl's 1949 masterpiece, the chieftain chair, employs iconography of tribal forms and Juhl’s innovative approach to design which accentuates the separation of the seat, back, an...
Category

Vintage 1940s American Scandinavian Modern Lounge Chairs

Materials

Leather, Walnut

Finn Juhl Chieftain Chair and Ottoman by Baker
By Baker Furniture Company, Finn Juhl
Located in Dallas, TX
This is the most important of Finn Juhl's chair designs. Shown at the Cabinetmakers Guild in 1949, Denmark's King Frederik is claimed to have sat in the chair and so it was called th...
Category

20th Century North American Mid-Century Modern Lounge Chairs

Materials

Leather, Teak, Walnut

1950s Teak and Tan Leather Chieftain's Chair by Finn Juhl
By Finn Juhl, Niels Vodder
Located in Esbjerg, DK
Chieftain's chair, teak by Finn Juhl, manufactured by Niels Vodder, Denmark. The powerful design is supported by the size and extravagance of the impressive chieftain's chair. Fin...
Category

Vintage 1950s Danish Scandinavian Modern Lounge Chairs

Materials

Leather, Teak

Finn Juhl Chieftain Armchair Wood and Leather
By Finn Juhl
Located in Barcelona, Barcelona
Armchair designed by Finn Juhl Manufactured by One collection Finn Juhl (Denmark) The iconic Chieftain chair is one of Finn Juhl’s absolute masterpieces, representing the peak of...
Category

21st Century and Contemporary Danish Modern Chairs

Materials

Leather, Walnut

Finn Juhl Chieftain Armchair Wood and Leather
By Finn Juhl
Located in Barcelona, Barcelona
Armchair designed by Finn Juhl Manufactured by One collection Finn Juhl (Denmark) The iconic Chieftain chair is one of Finn Juhl’s absolute masterpieces, representing the peak of...
Category

21st Century and Contemporary Danish Modern Chairs

Materials

Leather, Walnut

Finn Juhl Chieftain Armchair Wood and Leather
By Finn Juhl
Located in Barcelona, Barcelona
Armchair designed by Finn Juhl Manufactured by One collection Finn Juhl (Denmark) The iconic Chieftain chair is one of Finn Juhl’s absolute masterpieces, representing the peak of...
Category

21st Century and Contemporary Danish Modern Chairs

Materials

Leather, Walnut

Finn Juhl Chieftain Armchair Wood and Leather
By Finn Juhl
Located in Barcelona, Barcelona
Armchair designed by Finn Juhl Manufactured by One collection Finn Juhl (Denmark) The iconic Chieftain chair is one of Finn Juhl’s absolute masterpieces, representing the peak of...
Category

21st Century and Contemporary Danish Modern Chairs

Materials

Leather, Wood

Finn Juhl Chieftain Armchair Walnut, Leather Elegance Black
By Finn Juhl
Located in Barcelona, Barcelona
Armchair designed by Finn Juhl Manufactured by One collection Finn Juhl (Denmark) The iconic Chieftain chair is one of Finn Juhl’s absolute masterpieces, representing the peak of hi...
Category

21st Century and Contemporary Danish Modern Chairs

Materials

Leather, Walnut

Finn Juhl Chieftain Sofa Couch Rosewood Elegance Black Leather
By Finn Juhl
Located in Barcelona, Barcelona
Sofa designed by Finn Juhl Manufactured by Onecollection Finn Juhl (Denmark) Extraordinary piece of furniture is manufactured in a very exclusive, handcrafted version in walnut. The...
Category

21st Century and Contemporary Danish Modern Sofas

Materials

Leather, Rosewood

Finn Juhl Chieftain Armchair Walnut Vegetal Nature Leather
By Finn Juhl
Located in Barcelona, Barcelona
Armchair designed by Finn Juhl Manufactured by One collection Finn Juhl (Denmark) The iconic Chieftain chair is one of Finn Juhl’s absolute masterpieces, representing the peak of hi...
Category

21st Century and Contemporary Danish Modern Chairs

Materials

Leather, Walnut

Scandinavian Modern Finn Juhl Chieftain Brown Chair in Teak
By Finn Juhl
Located in London, GB
Legendary Chieftain chair designed by Finn Juhl. This example in wonderful solid teak (no longer in production) and made by One Collection. Approximately 5 years old. Fantastic and r...
Category

21st Century and Contemporary Danish Scandinavian Modern Lounge Chairs

Materials

Teak

Finn Juhl Teak Chieftain Chair Ottoma Black Spinneybeck Leather by Baker
By Baker Furniture Company, Finn Juhl
Located in Washington, DC
This 1991, one year production run, Baker Furniture Co. of Grand Rapid Michigan spared no expense, in regards to materials and detail. Outside owning a 1949 Niels Vodder version, thi...
Category

1990s American Scandinavian Modern Wingback Chairs

Materials

Leather, Teak, Walnut

The Chieftain Series