Dreaming of Don Draper at the Nordic Heritage Museum
Hans J. Wegner designed the AP-19 chair for AP Stolen in 1951. It was better known as the "Papa Bear Chair." (Image: Nordic Heritage Museum)

Dreaming of Don Draper at the Nordic Heritage Museum

Do you miss Mad Men as much as I do? While you won't see Don draping himself over Hans J. Wegner’s Round Chair, you can imagine it while viewing the Nordic Heritage Museum's current exhibition Danish Modern: Design for Living.

Through the end of August the museum will showcase some of the unique furniture designed and made in Denmark during the 1950s and 1960s. In addition to Hans J. Wegner, you’ll find iconic designs created by Poul Henningsen, Arne Jacobsen, Niels Otto Møller, and Borge Mogensen.

“Perhaps because of the Scandinavian impact on the Pacific Northwest, Seattle was particularly susceptible to the market of Danish Modern Design, evident through the Scan Design Store in downtown Bellevue in 1964, (later expanded into Scan Design Furniture, Inc.) and other companies who helped furnish the many mid-century homes on the West Coast,” says Lizette Gradén, chief curator at the Nordic Heritage Museum.

While chairs are a primary focus of the exhibition, you’ll also find table settings, light fixtures, toys, and examples of advertising and marketing campaigns that helped introduce Danish design to American consumers. Being a graphic designer and, as previously revealed, a huge Mad Men fan, I loved that ads were included in the collection.

The exhibition has an interactive element as well. You can sit on some of the chairs. “You can see for yourself how a successful balance of form and function has kept these chairs in production for over 50 years,” says Gradén. Visitors may also listen to six contemporary Danish designers describe their work in relation to the question, “What makes design Danish?”

Danish Modern: Design for Living was organized by The Museum of Danish America in Elk Horn, Iowa. Exhibition support is provided by Scan Design Foundation by Inger and Jens Bruun, The American-Scandinavian Foundation, 4Culture, Artsfund, and the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture.

The Nordic Heritage Museum is located in Seattle at 3014 NW 67th Street.

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