Arne Vodder was a leading light of what might be called the “second generation” of forward-thinking 20th-century Danish furniture designers — those who, following in the footsteps of Hans Wegner, Arne Jacobsen, Finn Juhl and others, first applied the skills, traditions and philosophical tenets of Danish craftsmanship to a modern furniture idiom.
Vodder’s aesthetic flair was very pronounced in his cabinets and storage pieces — sideboards, bookcases, credenzas and buffets. In such pieces, Vodder liked to play with asymmetry. His bookcases often have a seemingly random array of variously sized shelves and nooks. A typical Vodder sideboard might have four sections, each different in purpose and look: an open stack of vertical shelves, and other cupboards covered with sliding panels in contrasting colored laminates and wood veneers. Arne Vodder had a sense of what kind of design was appropriate for which space: sobriety in the boardroom; playfulness at home.
Arne Vodder was born in Denmark in 1926. Trained as a cabinetmaker and architect, he studied under Finn Juhl at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen, graduating in 1947. In 1950, Vodder launched his own architecture and design studio with architect Anton Borg.
Vodder is best known for his furniture designs, which tended to be simple pieces composed of natural materials such as rosewood and teak, often inspired by the natural forms, and occasionally accented with colorful panels. Vodder worked with several respected brands throughout his career, designing cabinetry, tables, seating, and more for furniture makers Fritz Hanson, France & Søn, Nielaus, Sibast, Kircodan (for which he designed garden furniture), as well as the department store Havemanns Magasin A/S (for which he designed the interiors), among others.
Between the 1950s and ’70s, Vodder’s furniture designs were used by President Jimmy Carter in the White House and President Anwar Sadat in Cairo, and were also included in the United Nations Office in Geneva, as well as in a number of hotels, banks, and embassies worldwide. His work was exhibited widely both individually and in group exhibitions with the likes of Verner Panton and Nanna Ditzel.
Vodder passed away in 2009.