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Danish teak furniture is a broad category of household furniture — typically tables and chairs — that is made of teak wood and embraces basic Danish design elements. In the mid-20th century, teak furniture became a popular fixture in homes across Denmark. Teak wood is remarkably durable, but its price has gone up as world teak supplies are dwindling. Many collectors covet mid-century Danish teak furniture for its style and history, as well as its longevity. Danish designers in the present day frequently produce designs that mimic the style of traditional teak furniture, though they often use a less expensive wood.
Teak wood is indigenous to Indonesia and the tropical climate of southeast Asia. Danish settlers attempted to colonize Indonesia in the 1800s, and while there, grew fond of teak wood and its properties. It became common practice to furnish colony houses in teak, as well as to ship major loads of teak wood home to Denmark.
The popularity of Danish teak furniture did not catch on in Denmark for nearly a century. It was not until shortly after the Second World War that Danish designers began marketing teak wood furniture to the general public. Danish teak furniture from this period is defined by its simplicity, its smooth lines, and its low profile.
Because teak wood is particularly durable, much of the furniture produced in the post-war period still exists in excellent condition today. It is frequently sold in furniture stores around the world as “Danish modern furniture,” and oftentimes still looks brand new. Collectors and antique dealers also sell teak modern furniture, and can fetch quite high prices for well preserved or restored pieces.
Little has changed about Danish furniture design over the years. Most furniture produced in the Danish style today retains the simple, linear look of the post-war pieces. This advances the marketability of modern Danish furniture, and has also influenced the style of much of new Danish or Danish-style furniture is being produced.
Some new furniture is, like the old, made of teak. To the untrained eye, brand-new Danish teak furniture can be almost indistinguishable from antique Danish teak furniture. Because of the rise in price of teak lumber, new pieces can be quite costly, however. Although once plentiful, the teak forests of south Asia have in many places been pilfered, poorly farmed, or cut down for agricultural crops or other ventures. Some teak farms persist, but the lower supply means that the demand — and the price with it — is much higher.
Many designers who wan to capture the look of Danish teak furniture are resorting to other woods, such as oak or rosewood. These woods, either alone or in combination with select teak panels, lend the feel of teak without the cost. When built in the modern style, even faux-teak furniture will match authentic pieces, and can enable decorators to create an upscale, modern look without the price tag.