artnet asks: Bruun Rasmussen auctioneers on Nordic design

Opened in 1948, Bruun Rasmussen Auctioneers is run by Jesper Bruun Rasmussen and his two children, Frederik and Alexa Bruun Rasmussen. Originally focused on fine art and antiques, the auction house has now expanded to include a diverse line of collectibles including books, stamps, coins, wine and , in particular, Nordic design.

Upcoming is the multi-day international auction of Bruun Rasmussen Auctioneers of modern and contemporary art, decorative art and design, including works by Willem de Kooning and Finn Juhl, among others. For a full schedule, visit their upcoming auction listing here, and preview the upcoming March 10 design auction here.

Bruun Rasmussen recently entered the Nordic design market in North America. Can you describe the ethics of Nordic design in three words?
Craftsmanship, human and functionality.

There is a clear connection to nature in Nordic design, which in a very basic way creates a kind of well-being when you surround yourself with it. The connection is not only through the materials used, such as wood, but also through the organic form of the designs.

There is also a sort of implicit and understated exclusivity in Nordic design, which is less noisy than designs from other parts of the world.

In a modern world where highly visible signs of wealth have become prevalent, traditional status symbols are now replaced by the more subtle Nordic look, one where one gets close to nature. Nordic design creates a very human environment in which it is simply pleasant to be, where the furniture itself signals human values.

Finn Juhl, FJ45 (1960s). Courtesy of auctioneers Bruun Rasmussen.

What are the must-have Nordic pieces that new collectors should have in mind?
New furniture collectors should opt for vintage furniture that was handcrafted by cabinet makers in Copenhagen between 1930 and 1970 or so. Within this group there are many pieces to choose from, some achieving “blue chip” status – icons such as Finn Juhl’s “FJ-45” chair, Ib Kofod’s “Elizabeth” chair. Larsen and the “Dolphin” chair by Hans J. Wegner. “chair. But a common feature of all Nordic vintage furniture in general is that the pieces are extremely well made.

Do you have any tips for incorporating Nordic design into an apartment?
Bruun Rasmussen’s head of design, Peter Kjelgaard, believes that new architecture, including modern interior design, is increasingly inspired by the tradition of Nordic design. “Often you see a strong focus on artificial and natural light,” says Kjelgaard, “and their influence on wood as a material. I think you have to use Nordic design in a pragmatic way, so it makes sense in your life. Original vintage furniture designs create an atmosphere of authenticity. You can easily give the cabinet a more contemporary look with a new cover or new upholstery.

How has the Internet changed the world of auctions?
Bruun Rasmussen started running online auctions in 2004, where it was one of the first auction houses in the world to hold both traditional auctions and online auctions. Today, the two sales channels each represent an equal share of our turnover and allow a price range from a few thousand Danish kroner to several million. In recent years, we have also started to broadcast our traditional online auctions and offer live auctions via the Internet. The internet is therefore very important to our business, as it makes it very easy for customers all over the world to buy and sell through our auction house. We also see a big “crossover” between the two formats, where online customers participate in our traditional “offline” auctions and vice versa. Our online presence also means increased uptime, now that we’re open 24/7.

How has attending design fairs affected your auction business?
In recent years, Bruun Rasmussen has participated in various design fairs and exhibitions around the world to promote the auction house to an international audience. For example, we exhibited a tapestry by Le Corbusier at the Collective Design Fair in New York. This helped to educate new customers and the international media about the sale, and led to a hugely successful auction result. This type of service to our clients is an important part of our growth strategy, and we are fortunate that our clientele is very loyal, so support for this type of promotional work is clearly present among our clientele.

Ib Kofod-Larsen, Elizabeth (1960s).  Courtesy of auctioneers Bruun Rasmussen.

Ib Kofod-Larsen, Elisabeth (1960s). Courtesy of auctioneers Bruun Rasmussen.

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