Steven Johnsen of Osted Antik & Design shares his love for Danish design classics

A Craftsman’s Eye

Since the 1980s, on the island of Zealand in eastern Denmark, cabinetmaker Steven Johnsen has been committed to repairing and restoring the classics. When he launched Osted Antik & Design, his workshop and boutique business was focused mainly on pre-20th-century antiques. But as demand for Scandinavian modernism has skyrocketed over the years, he specializes today in the iconic work of Danish masters like Arne Jacobsen and Poul Henningsen. “We take great pride in restoring vintage items,” Johnsen tells us, “because we see them as important pieces of history that must be preserved.”

We couldn’t agree more. The market for vintage Danish design has been going strong for over a decade and shows no signs of slowing down. Where would Mid-Mod lovers like us be without experts like Johnsen who track down this highly sought after material and resuscitate it back to life for new generations to enjoy?

Intrigued by his craftsman’s eye, we reached out to Johnsen to learn more about his work and why, in his view, vintage Danish stands the test of time.

Egg Chair by Arne Jacobsen Photo © Osted Antik & Design
Tell us more about Osted Antik & Design’s specialty.

The business started as a workshop where I worked as the cabinetmaker while operating a boutique selling only antiquities. It has since developed into a workshop housing five+ full-time cabinetmakers who work on everything from the restoration of Poul Henningsen Artichoke Pendants to the reupholstery of Arne Jacobsen Egg Chairs.

We fully restore vintage design items, which we believe sets us apart. We take great care of our items and ensure that they are in the great condition that our customers demand. Reupholstery has become quite popular, and we have become specialized in reupholstering design classics like the Series Seven Chair by Arne Jacobsen.

Who is your ideal client, or who do you have in mind when you source material?

My ideal client is one who focuses on quality, both in the original design and in the restoration. Almost all the items you find in my shop have been looked after, to varying degrees, by my cabinetmakers, which most of my clients truly appreciate. I believe our services provide a feeling of safety and assurance to know that we ourselves can vouch for the condition of the items.

Which 20th-century designers inspire you most and why?

I love Danish designers like Hans J. Wegner and Poul Henningsen who created many design icons—items you will find in our shop. But the designers that inspire me most of all are Finn Juhl and Poul Kjærholm, whose designs are extraordinarily timeless and of the utmost quality. As a cabinetmaker myself, the craftsmanship behind the pieces from these two in particular really demonstrate why Danish designs are so popular 60 years after they were originally created.

NV45 Lounge by Finn Juhl for Niels Vodder Photo © Osted Antik & Design
Which work of 20th-century design from your collection is the perfect expression of timeless good design?

An item I believe to be the perfect expression of timeless design would be the NV-45 Armchair by Finn Juhl. It was designed in 1945, and still to this day it is the perfect design in my opinion. A few years ago we had this chair in our workshop for restoration and then in our shop for sale. It was crafted in rosewood, which is quite rare for this chair—the epitome of immaculate Danish design.

I am quite taken by rosewood and the way the material has been used over the years, as well as by the fact that we can no longer produce new items in this particular type of wood. The question of sustainability has come into play. We have overused the species, which is why restoration has become more important than ever and why the quality of Danish design is equally important. Designs from the 1950s and 1960s were made to last. When we restore these items—already more than 60 years old—we ensure that the material will last even longer in the future.

Which category of vintage is most sought after right now?

Today’s most sought after items are definitely dining chairs from different Danish designers. We really see it with the Series Seven Chairs that I mentioned earlier, as well as with dining chairs by Kai Kristiansen and Hans J. Wegner. These chairs offer great quality at an affordable price range. And they can be mixed with a lot of other designs, because they are so simple and elegant.

Which category of vintage is most undervalued right now?

As mentioned, we started with the selling of antiquities and later graduated to primarily selling vintage design. However, we do still sell antiquities, and they are in my opinion quite underrated at the moment. I believe they will come back again. Even though they might not match the current style, they represent excellent quality. I have items in my store over 100 years old, and they are still in great condition all this time later.

Model PP250 Chair by Hans J. Wegner for PP Møbler Photo © Osted Antik & Design
Can you spotlight a work from your collection that is super special in some way?

We currently have a Northern German Baroque Cabinet, made of walnut and oak around the year 1730. The cabinet has been hand-polished and has previously been placed at a large estate at Slesvig Holsten. 

We have also once had a Wegner Valet Chair from the 1950s, which we restored and sold in our shop. The chair is still in production, but it is always more interesting when we get a hold of items from the original time period. 


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