Niels Otto Møller
Niels Otto Møller
Niels Otto Møller, born in 1920 in Århus, Denmark, was the founder of J.L. Møllers Møbelfabrik, a Danish hardwood furniture company that became synonymous with exceptional craftsmanship and timeless design. In 1974 and 1981, J.L. Møllers Møbelfabrik received Dansk MøbelIndustri's Furniture Prize. Today the brand is ran by Møller’s son, nevertheless it still embodies Møller’s signature vision and ageless technique. The brand’s mission statement reads “proud tradition of classic craftsmanship”. Apart from dining room chairs, J.L. Møllers Møbelfabrik designed armchairs, sideboards and tables.
Upon completing an apprenticeship in cabinetmaking in 1939, Møller was inspired to enroll in Århus School of Design. J.L. Møllers Møbelfabrik was created in 1944, and the first chair was produced in 1946, labeled modestly as the No. 1 Chair. It was followed by Hostess Table No. 44, Chair No. 71 and Armchair No. 55 in 1951. The venture quickly gained momentum, and production was soon expanded to another facility in Højbjerg. After receiving education in cabinet making, Møller’s sons Jens Ole and Jørgen had joined the company, further increasing production zones by 2500 m². By the year 1974, the designs saw demand from the Japanese market, thus gaining notoriety that lasts to this day. According to Jørgen, each of the masterpieces took five years to complete. Nowadays, the teak and rosewood furniture still remains amongst the most sought-after by collectors.
Currently, J.L. Møllers Møbelfabrik operates with the same philosophy, minimizing the use of assembly lines and modern furniture-making techniques, allowing Møller’s legacy to prevail. It is rare to see ornamentation in any of Møller’s designs. The sleek finish and elegant composition of the chairs are achieved through use of high-quality materials and laborious attention to detail. “Clean, simple designs and the quality of materials and workmanship are why Nordic design is timeless,” says Jørgen in an interview. “It’s because of these materials and skills that Møller chairs are passed down from one generation to the next.”
The models are custom-made with the use of oak, walnut, cherry and maple. Although endangerment of many species of rosewood has led to its removal from production, some models are still made with teak. Small details like tenons and mortices are hand-glued, and each piece is hand-polished. The famous Model 75 dining chair with Danish cord seating was originally crafted in teak, but recently re-created as an oak adaptation. Many of Møller chair designs feature slightly curved backs made of a single piece of wood. Model 65 armchair is created with tapered legs and produces a sculptural aesthetic. Although Møller’s works mostly featured soft angles and flowing curves, there are exceptions to this rule. Some of these exceptions include armchairs created after 1970, with a sharp yet supple structure.
Rosewood was Møller’s favorite, and can be seen used in Model 80 dining room chair, complimented by cognac colored leather. This material was also used in round dining tables and coffee tables. Møller also designed several sideboards and buffets.
Møller passed away in 1982. His works have been featured in exhibition at the Johyun Gallery, Busan, and the Fine Art Society, London. Select pieces were also presented at auctions, with prices ranging from $65 to $43158 for a set of 12 Model 78 chairs, crafted in rosewood and cane.
Although the furniture industry has been quick to adapt to fast-paced technological advancements, J.L. Møllers Møbelfabrik had preserved the spirit of old craft tradition and exceptional work ethic throughout the years, and still remains the representation of mid-century modernism.