Recently there has been a growing international interest in the history of interior design. Danish design owes much of its international renown to a few prominent architects and their iconic products. One of them was Finn Juhl, who earned an international reputation mainly through his elegant furniture design. However, an important aspect of his work has received virtually no attention: his seminal work as a visionary teacher and leader at the school for professional interior design in Copenhagen in the 1940s and 1950s. Harald Willerup, architect as well, and Juhl's equally visionary predecessor, had initiated this work in 1934, but has remained largely unknown. This article offers a historiographical mapping of the professional education of Danish interior designers in the period from 1934 to 1955—a subject, which has so far remained unexposed. Despite the fact that the leading figures and pioneers of the education of interior design were men, the students were almost exclusively women. The article seeks to explain this and to explain the consequences for the general image of the profession. The research into the development of interior design education in Denmark shows how the change of leadership from Willerup to Juhl resulted in a shift in the educational focus from functional and social issues toward a greater focus on aesthetics. The fact remains, however, that this work was informed by prevalent functionalist ideas at the time. A particularly fascinating aspect of the Danish history of interior design education is the hard struggle its pioneers had to fight cultural prejudice and conventional thinking.
Journal of Interior Design, 2013, Vol 38, Issue 3, p. 1-19