The ICON | Spanish Chair

  • WORDS Stephen Crafti
  • Wide timber armrests, combined with saddle-stitched leather, the Spanish Chair continues to be a favourite with design buffs around the world, earning its place in our ICON series.

    Inspired by ancient Islamic culture, as well as regular travels to Spain, the Spanish Chair by Danish designer Børge Mogensen is also typically Danish. As with many Danish-designed pieces, this chair exudes a restrained aesthetic, a sense of tranquillity, a degree of unpretentiousness and, importantly, a focus on comfort. 

    Børge Mogensen, who graduated from the Royal Academy of Fine Art in Copenhagen in 1941, was a keen traveller. His Hunting Chair (circa 1950), which skimmers the floor, has a strong Japanese aesthetic and is a prelude to the Spanish Chair, produced by Fredericia. The Hunting Chair, as with the Spanish Chair has a strong masculine aesthetic and both feature leather straps with brass buckles to ensure any loosening of the leather can be easily tightened.

    Today, with people being mindful of comfort as well as space within a room, the broad oak armrests allow a side table to be dispensed with, being just the right width to place a glass of wine or a favourite book. With the leather produced in the same 140-year-old tannery in Tarnsjo Garveri, in Sweden, there’s a sense of history here that will take the Spanish Chair forward for the next 140 years.

    “I also enjoy sitting at the dining table and admiring these chairs in profile. The leather straps and corseted backrest take on a sculptural quality…”


    – Fiona Austin, director of Austin Design Associates

    Interior designer Fiona Austin has been a fan of Danish design for decades. Her house in bayside Melbourne is filled with Danish furniture, along with natural materials, such as oak floors. She recently purchased two Spanish Chairs in pale leather with a natural oak frame. “Eventually, my two sons will inherit one each. They’re not dissimilar to heirlooms,” Fiona says.

    But for now, and for many years to come, the Spanish Chairs will remain in a deep window bay in Fiona’s living area. With this window orientated to the northwest and affording delightful vignettes of the garden, the two chairs have their backs towards the dining room table. “I also enjoy sitting at the dining table and admiring these chairs in profile. The leather straps and corseted backrest take on a sculptural quality,” Fiona says, who also appreciates the natural materials against her skin. “The chairs also work beautifully with the oak floors and the Afghan rug under them which has the same hue as the leather,” she adds.

    The Spanish Chair had been on Fiona’s wish list for many years. But now spending more time at home, she thought it was the right time to place her order. “I was prepared to wait, both for the right time and the time they take to arrive (approximately four months). They’re made by hand and only to order,” Fiona says, who gravitates to the Spanish Chair when not painting in her studio. “It has a lightness to it and just the right scale for this spot.”

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