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Published by Sugar & Cream, Friday 06 October 2023

Images and text courtesy of GUBI

An Unsurpassed Classic by a Doyen of Danish Design

One of Denmark’s most influential furniture designers of the 1950s and ’60s, Illum Wikkelsø believed that there was no one way to sit in a chair, and that any successful chair design should therefore allow for multiple sitting positions. With its high back, deep seat, low-slung arms, and all-around cushioning the V11 Lounge Chair exemplifies this approach.

Originally designed around 1965 for the furniture maker Holger Christiansen, the V11 went on to become one of Wikkelsø’s most wildly successful designs, generating demand all over the world. It has been featured everywhere from the office of the president of Japan to the palace of the king of Saudi Arabia, and has sustained an unwavering appeal among collectors and design aficionados in every decade since its launch.

The V11’s success is largely down to its fine craftsmanship and distinctive design. The tall trapezoidal body of the chair stands on four tapering solid wooden legs, each in an inverted pyramid shape that echoes the angular contours of the arms and backrest. This gives the V11 a sharply defined and unmistakably modernist silhouette, while maintaining the look of a classic lounge chair. This iconic aesthetic is matched in the accompanying ottoman, which, used in combination with the lounge chair, opens up the variety of positions available to the sitter still further, while being a comfortable perch in its own right.

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To ensure Wikkelsø’s original design is precisely recreated, GUBI worked in close collaboration with the designer’s family, employing a 3D scanning process on original examples of the design in order to perfectly capture the V11’s original aesthetic and construction. A gifted cabinetmaker, Wikkelsø typically created furniture that involved a high degree of complexity in its construction, and the V11 is no exception. Each component of the chair has to be crafted by hand, and, because of the unusual shape of the chair body, the upholstery closure has to be positioned visibly at the top rather than concealed at the bottom. To give the chair a seamless piped edge therefore requires the highest upholstery skills, as any imperfection would be clearly exposed.

The reintroduced editions of both the lounge chair and the ottoman are FSC®-certified (FSC®-C176589) and comprise a wooden frame, with legs in either solid walnut or oak, and numerous upholstery options available. On the Lounge Chair, s-spring suspension beneath the seat and four removable, feather-filled cushions ensure comfort on all sides – this is a chair one can sink into and stay in for hours. The V11 Ottoman features a single cushion that can be easily removed for cleaning.

Like GUBI’s other Wikkelsø furniture – the Croissant Sofa and Lounge Chair – the V11 is designed to offer a balance of timeless formal elegance, comfort, and longevity, slipping effortlessly into both modern and classic interiors, and offering its owner decades of relaxation.

Returned to production by GUBI, the V11 Lounge Chair and Ottoman serve as at-a-glance testimony to Wikkelsø’s forward-thinking, quintessentially modern style as a designer, but it is not until the moment one sits in the chair that his exceptional craft and dedication to physical comfort and flexibility become immediately, irresistibly clear.

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