Mid Century Makers: Arne Vodder

Unless you’re really into mid century design, there is a chance that you’ll never have heard of Arne Vodder.

This is probably something just shy of an injustice because his designs are brilliant. 

What’s more, those designs also appeared in the most prestigious of locations.

President Jimmy Carter, for example, requested some when it was his turn to furnish the White House. 

A Presidential seal of approval, however, has not been enough for the history books, where the focus has remained on the bigger names of Wegner, Møgensen and Jacobsen.

The reason he has not enjoyed the same renown as his contemporaries is, however, more likely to be down to timing and not talent.

Many commentators have made the point that Vodder emerged at a time when Danish Modern design was already well established.

There is a suggestion that, as a result, he didn’t have to try as hard to get noticed (and be commercial) as his predecessors.

Look at his designs and, with the exception of some of his sideboards, this idea plays out.

Nothing is screaming for your attention. Everything is just solid, well-proportioned and refined.

This may be why, when historians look back on this era, his work is overlooked. Perhaps if he had been more frivolous, or 20 years older, his legacy would be entirely different.

However, this relative obscurity is why his work is such an attractive proposition today. It means you might be able to purchase an item for less than it is actually worth. 

It also means that his work has a feeling of exclusivity. When the masses are drawn to the more recognisable names, those that are interested only in quality, know Vodder.

If you want to join that number, keep reading for a more practical insight into Arne Vodder furniture.

Where to Buy Arne Vodder Furniture?

We always buy any Vodder furniture that we can acquire because we know it will be made to highest standard. 

So, if you’re in the market check out our Arne Vodder collection.

If we can’t help you then there are plenty of other great mid century shops in the capital. Take a look at our mid century shopping guide for more.

Re-seller sites like 1st Dibs and Pamono are usually a good bet for Vodder pieces.

Remember, though, that vendors on these sites usually raise their prices to ensure they don’t miss out when the commission is taken.

If you want to cut out the middle man, then try the likes of Gumtree and eBay.

Just be warned: the risks of shopping this way are higher and the cost of refinishing and re-upholstery might be more than you bargained for.

Some of Vodder’s designs can also be purchased new from Nielaus, Snedkergaarden Them and Erik Jørgensen Møbelfabrik.

Where was Arne Vodder From?

Arne Vodder was born in Denmark in 1926. 

He studied, lived and worked, for the most part, in Copenhagen.

What did Arne Vodder do?

Vodder was an architect and designer.

He set up his own practice/ studio in the 50’s, but it is probably fair to say he is better known for his furniture than anything else.

This may have something to do with the fact that he was trained by the legendary Finn Juhl (another Danish architect who is known, in the main, for his furniture design).

Where was Arne Vodder Furniture Made?

The vast majority of Vodder’s output came from his native Denmark, where he worked with the likes of:

  • Sigh and Søns
  • France and Son (and Cado)
  • Sibast
  • GV Møbler
  • Glostrup Møbelfabrik
  • Falster Møbelfabrik
  • Fritz Hansen
  • Bovirke

What is Arne Vodder Furniture Made From?

As with a lot of the Danish Modern greats, expect a lot of teak.

He was also partial to working with rosewood. Seek out some of those pieces and you’ll see why.

You might also expect to see some leather upholstery.

Must be said, the condition of this leather won’t always be great on the originals so try to avoid buying blind if you have no plans to re-upholster.

How to Identify Arne Vodder Furniture

The easiest place to start is by looking for a maker’s mark.

However, some manufacturers made it easier than others.

A France & Son armchair (above) is likely to feature permanent branding; other producers went with just a sticker, which could easily fall off over time.

If it’s made of either solid teak, or high-quality teak veneer, it’s worth looking into. Look also for sweeping curves and organic edges.

Sideboards and storage often had distinctive eye-shaped drawer handles and some had very colourful panels.

What is Arne Vodder Most Famous For?

As we have already mentioned, his fame is not commensurate with the quality of his work.

However, he is probably best known for being the designer of choice for the powerful.

Jimmy Carter, Colonel Gaddafi (no, really) and Pope Paul VI can all be listed as customers. 

What’s Arne Vodder’s Most Famous Design?

Vodder was asked which of his designs he considered to be the best and he chose the Model 29 sideboard.

It’s great, but it wouldn’t be our pick. Nor is it likely to be his most famous. 

There is a suggestion that Model 26 might take this title but again, our opinion differs.

For us, his defining design is the corner desk he created for Sibast. It oozes mid century, would make a great work station and it just says business.

Is Arne Vodder Furniture Valuable? 

As ever, value is almost always dependent on condition.

If everything is as it should be then the short answer to this question is yes. The aforementioned desk, in rosewood, could fetch over £10k.

However, the market for Vodder pieces is smaller than with some other Danish designers and this is solely down to the fact he is not as famous as some of the other people who fit this bracket.

This may mean you find a piece harder to sell at the price it’s probably worth.

Buyers may get lucky and find a vendor who isn’t aware of/ bothered by what it is he or she has to sell.

How to Care for Your Arne Vodder Furniture

A coat of Danish oil or our very own beeswax every six months will go a long way to ensuring that the wood retains its natural lustre.

If you choose to go a different way just make sure that whatever you use is natural and contains no solvents.

Wipe down mess and stains with a damp (not wet) cloth.

Upholstery work should always be carried out by a professional. 

Sand solid wood pieces with caution and always sand the whole piece to ensure a consistent finish.

Don’t sand veneer furniture. If there is a blemish that is driving you to distraction, seek the help of a professional.

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