Today I have been looking at the work of Danish Master Cabinetmaker Peder Moos (1906 – 1991), a truly inspirational character with some stunning work. Peder was perhaps not the most well know of the Danish furniture makers of the functionalist movement but in my view he was certainly one of the best. Working mostly to commission he is thought to have only made between 30-40 pieces, his work is incredibly rare and hard to come by, his furniture is held by a number of museum collections and commands significant price tags at auction. I first came across his work through reading James Krenov’s outstanding book ‘A Cabinetmakers Notebook’ (ISBN 0941936597) where James recalls a wonderfull anecdote:
"A story that has stuck in my mind and affected me is one of the innumerable anecdotes about a legendary cabinetmaker in Denmark called Peder Moos. He is gone now but this story has helped me and it just might help someone else. It's about a woman in Stockholm who, at the time that Peder Moos was fairly well know, wrote him a letter and asked him whether he would make her a cabinet. Several months went by and she did not get a reply, so finally she called him on the telephone and repeated her request. He muttered something about well, yes, he would do that, or at least he would think about it. Several months went by and still no answer so the lady wrote him a card reminding him of her request, and again she did not get a reply.
Then one day, the story has it about a year and a half after she had originally contacted he, there came a postcard from Peder Moos, "I have made a piece for you." The lady, of course was tremendously excited; she took the first possible train down to Copenhagen and then to the smallish town where Peer Moos lived and worked. She went to his shop, met him - and there was a chair. The lady looked at the chair, and took it and paid for it, and went home very, very happy"
James goes on to comment that this story encouraged him to have freedom in his interpretation and the importance of being left alone with the brief. For me the exciting thing here is that a craftsperson of such high regard and respect can direct output and in this case produce something so far from the brief and still delight the customer. Peder answered to the craft, the materials available and the accurate transformation of the material into form, it was his interpretation. Here's an image of one of a table from Peder Moos, this was taken from an auction catalog last year. I long to see his work up close in real-life.
Notice the use of the wooden pins, Peder was known for shunning screws nails and screws and relied on wooden pins and wedges, wood on wood. I also adore the carving of the draws it gives the piece great confidence, you just want to touch and interact with the piece.
Decopedia has a nice little section showing some more images of Peder Moos work.
I will focus more on the great James Krenov in later posts.