It was my dear late Aunt Dorie (1) who first introduced me to the joys of what we now call mid-century modern furniture (2). Those days, it was called Danish Modern. Aunt Dorie had a few choice teak pieces (now in my living room) and took me to House of Denmark in Troy to see many more. I was smitten. That House of Denmark went out of business, but one survived in St. Louis (seemingly the only place they survived (3)) and I visited it frequently during my internship and residency at Barnes. When I finally got a real paycheck from my full-time post-residency moonlighting in July of 82, I went in and bought that Ekornes Stressless Recliner that had been beckoning by their front door, and in which I had taken a sample sit every time I visited. I later bought a stereo cabinet and bedroom furniture there, all of which survive today. It was that recliner that brought me into our present story.
You never know what you’ll find on e-bay. And one day I found another Ekornes Stressless Recliner, this one in blue leather. I couldn’t resist. There would be a place for it. When it arrived, there were some flaws. Up against my ’82 piece, there were some flaws there too, mostly wear and fading. Looking for someone who could effect the necessary improvements, I came across Bar (for “Barbara”) in Chicago who took on Scandinavian leather furniture for a living (4). After a prolonged effort, stretched out by COVID, she returned to me two like new chairs. I am eternally grateful.
Then, like I said, you never know what you’ll find on e-Bay. I decided that a nice stool would complement our living room teak credenza, someplace to sit while sorting through the files there. The plastic milk crate we were using wasn’t too classy, and certainly not mid-century modern. What I stumbled on was so perfect it made my eyes roll back: Danish, mid-60s, solid teak (you don’t see that anymore!).
So, I plunked down the large amount of cash they asked, and awaited arrival. It was perfect beyond words. I knew nothing of its history then, except for the funny Danish name of its designer, but was very happy with my purchase. It served well and looked oh-so-cool in its home at the edge of the credenza by the hallway. I bought mine used, but as of 2006 you could get a new one from Furiosa in Kolding (phone 75 50 88 87), a design shop run by one of Hundevad’s former employees (5). Price then: 3660 Danish Kroners ($532.67 by today’s exchange rates. You could fly there round trip from DTW and have plenty of Kroners left over for what I paid for my stool!). Not sure that 2006 model was made out of solid teak. Still worth every penny, regardless, especially with what I’ve learned recently.
Then tragedy struck. Trying to lift my 6’6” 270# frame off the seat, I put a hand on the leather seat itself rather than the teak bar supporting it. One of the leather tabs to the teak bar ripped. There are 5 such tabs on each side, so the seat held up for a while. But a later venture found me ripping the remaining 4 on one side and that was that.
It took me a while even to seek help for the situation. Surely, I wanted my heirloom restored. Local solutions were not forthcoming, as the leather furniture restorer with whom we’ve done business before said there was nothing he could do. I sought out businesses in the region that dealt with thicker leather, like saddle purveyors, but couldn’t get a response. As a last ditch, I turned to Bar. If she couldn’t fix such a thing, she’d have some advice. The e-mail happened to land on her birthday, and she was happy to hear from me. She said the repair was beyond what she did, but offered 3 outfits that could take in on, 2 in LA (6,7) and one in NJ (8). I was in touch with all that day and got quick responses. All wanted to know a little more about the piece, so I dug in and told them, as follows:
If you’re curious about the piece to be repaired, it was made in Denmark in the 60s, called a Poul Hundevad ”Guldhøj” Folding Stool. Poul Hundevad was a Dane born in 1917, trained as a carpenter and had his own furniture shop until he turned to design in the early 60s (9). He became a renowned designer (in circles that recognize such things) and is responsible for many of the mid-century modern teak pieces I love so much. “Guldhøj” translates to “gold rush”, so I suspect prospectors took along stools like this to sit on as they panned for gold. Mr. Hundevad did not design this particular stool. A tag on the underneath of the seat – in 4 languages – says a stool like this was found in a “grave-hole” in Vamdrup, coincidently where Hundevad was born, a small town in Southern Denmark on the Jutland peninsula. The grave dated to the early bronze age, ~1350 BC. No wonder the leather tore! I’m counting on the repairmen to produce a piece that can give me another several millennia of service.
So, I can’t imagine a more impossibly cool stool.
One of the potential repairers had me chasing my own leather “half-hides”, which would be necessary to replace the seat. He’d excitedly found some on e-Bay that might work, but in the color I wanted, none were available in that size. But e-Bay does offer some interesting possibilities.
I offered to the LA repairman he could leave the tail in for effect.
But as I write this, I seek to gather up the broken off parts then bubble wrap this thing to an inch of its life. Then it’s off to LA, to be refurbished amongst the furniture of the stars. Once home, I promise to sit on it with proper reverence.
1. Bob Ike. Aunt Dorie. WordPress 1/1/21. https://theviewfromharbal.com/2021/01/14/aunt-dorie/
2. Mid-Century Modern 101: Everything You Need to Know. Vermont Woods Studios. https://vermontwoodsstudios.com/content/mid-century-modern-101#:~:text=Mid%2DCentury%20Modern%20furniture%20is,popular%20in%20contemporary%20interior%20design.
3. House of Denmark. https://www.houseofdenmarkfurniture.com/
4. Leather car and color. http://www.barbsleatherservice.com/
5. Lisbet Holt. An age-old case. Fyens.dk (FyensStifstidende) 8/6/06. https://fyens.dk/bolig-og-livsstil/en-aeld-gammel-sag
6. ADV Leather. https://www.advleather.com/Wassily.html
7. Hume Modern. https://humemodern.com/
8. Olek Furniture Restoration. https://www.oleklejbzon.com/mobile/
9. Crystal Smith. Great Danish designers 101: Poul Hundevad. VHB 1/20/16. https://vintagehomeboutique.ca/blogs/vintage-home-boutique/86160131-great-danish-designers-101-poul-hundevad
3 thoughts on “guldhøj”
Awesome story and love the photos!!
Thats right. Didn’t give up