The UN Headquarters

Furnishing the Finn Juhl Chamber

The Restoration and Refurnishing
of the UN Headquarters in New York

In 2011 the design duo Kasper Salto & Thomas Sigsgaard won a design competition under the auspices of the Danish Ministry of Culture, to design the furniture for one of the permanent chambers at the United Nations headquarters in New York, The Trusteeship Council Chamber. The same chamber was designed by Danish Architect Finn Juhl in 1951 as a gift from Denmark to the U.N.

The Restoration of the Finn Juhl Chamber

”The so-called Finn Juhl Chamber is the most popular chamber at the U.N. The warm glow from the wooden wall panels and the play of colour from the ceiling lend the room an incredibly pleasant feeling, despite being such a monumental space. It is obvious that people’s well-being has been the designer’s focus. The chairs are comfortable to sit in, the armrests are pleasant to touch and the steps are comfortable to walk on. Every small detail is a result of thorough consideration, both in terms of Finn Juhl’s original design as well as Salto & Sigsgaard’s modern furniture. When you think about how many decisions of great magnitude are made in that chamber, it is good to know, that they are made in a room with such a pleasant atmosphere” 

– Mogens A. Morgen, Head of Division, Danish Agency for Culture, Architect MAA

The chamber has become one of the most important ambassadors for Danish design abroad, and in connection with the recent renovations of the entire U.N. complex on Manhattan, Denmark again donated funds for a fresh design which keeps Finn Juhl’s design spirit alive. Onecollection has been tasked with producing Finn Juhl’s original chairs, the FJ 51, for the delegates. Furthermore, Onecollection together with the designers Kasper Salto and Thomas Sigsgaard has developed, produced and delivered completely new tables for the chamber as well as the unique and beautiful ”Council Chair”, which is now also launched for the global market.

The Council Chair and Table

Both tables and chairs pass on the baton from Finn Juhl’s iconic design heritage in a sculptural and pleasant direction, which merges shape, colour and natural materials. The chairs are a construction of moulded Reholz 3D veneer in oak, upholstered with leather. The swivel base is cast in aluminium. The Council Chair is now in production and is available in oak or walnut with customers choice of leather or fabric.

“People ask us what is especially Danish about this chair. Apart from the light Nordic colour and our love of using wood, we also think it has to do with our approach: We put a lot of effort into assembling all possible influences of the assignment before giving it shape. By doing so, we had a good chance of making something useful and relevant. Besides that, there is always a reason for what we do, and that often helps us in our discussions with the various teams we work with. For instance, we designed the secretaries’ chairs with armrests. At first the U.N. was hesitant to allocate chairs with armrests to employees with the status of secretary, but because we presented them with our intensions, we came to an agreement”. Designers Kasper Salto & Thomas Sigsgaard

“In our design, we have chosen to emphasize what we thought Finn Juhl was particularly good at: the meeting with the human body. Finn Juhl had a very artistic attitude to design and in a lot of his chairs there is a distinct separation between the carried and the carrying elements – a clear definition of where the human meets the construction,” Kasper Salto

”It has been enormously challenging but also a lot of fun to be part of the process of creating Salto & Sigsgaards furniture for the Chamber. The fact that everything has gone so smoothly is almost unreal! Together with the designers we have constantly had to balance on the edge of what is technically possible and collect expertise from all corners of the globe. At the same time we have worked in a very small time frame where nothing was allowed to go wrong. Today, however, we feel that we have created something beautiful and groundbreaking in tandem with the designers. We hope this can inject new interest into Danish design from an international perspective. What a shame Finn Juhl himself couldn’t experience this” . Director Hans Henrik Sørensen, Onecollection

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