The Restauration and Refurnishing of the Trusteeship Council Chamber at the UN Headquarters

On April 25th, 2013, the Trusteeship Council Chamber at the United Nations Headquarters in New York was inaugurated after a thorough renovation. The chamber underwent an extensive renovation and refurnishing, breathing new life into the iconic space. The chamber, which was designed by Finn Juhl, was originally inaugurated in 1952.

For the refurnishing, OneCollection manufactured and delivered both the relaunch of the original Delegates Chair, FJ 51, designed by Finn Juhl, and the modern secretariat chairs and tables, designed by Kasper Salto & Thomas Sigsgaard.

The Modern Successor

Winning a prestigious design competition under the Danish Ministry of Culture in 2011, the design duo Kasper Salto & Thomas Sigsgaard was tasked to shape the furniture for the refurnishing of the Trusteeship Council Chamber at the United Nations headquarters in New York.

Onecollection was not only tasked with producing Finn Juhl’s original chairs, the FJ 51 Chair, for the delegates. The company also produced and delivered Finn Juhl’s modern successor: Salto & Sigsgaard’s chair named the ‘Council Chair’ as well as new custom-made tables, also designed by Salto & Sigsgaard in a completely new layout for the chamber. Both of which are now a permanent part of the OC-collection.

Architecht Thomas Sigsgaard and designer Kasper Salto managed to capture the spirit of the chamber and elegantly bring Finn Juhl’s legacy into the 21st century with their sculptural Council Chair. The shells on the seat and back are made of formpressed 3D veneer. Inside, the tight padding in natural leather perfectly fits the body of the chair. The elegant swivel base is cast in aluminium.

Preserving the Legacy of Finn Juhl

When the United Nations headquarters was built over 70 years ago, the Trusteeship Council Chamber was Denmark’s contribution to the completion of the UN building. It was the young architect Finn Juhl who was given the prestigious task of designing the interior. He created a historic design that truly manifested Denmark as a design nation, and the chamber became an important milestone in the spread of the international concept of Danish Modern. Finn Juhl intended to create a “Gesamtkunstwerk” – a holistic masterpiece, where each design element complements the others to create a functional and aesthetic whole. The chamber stands as a beautiful and important testament to Danish cultural heritage.

The Trusteeship Council Chamber at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.

The Delegates Chair, FJ 51, designed by Finn Juhl.

Co-Founder of OneCollection & House of Finn Juhl Reflects on the Journey

“Looking back, it was enormously challenging to develop Salto & Sigsgaards demanding and boundary-pushing furniture at the same time as we had to navigate through a maze of institutions and stakeholders in both the UN, USA, and Denmark. The fact that the chamber has been in use for 10 years – and that everything succeeded without error, is almost incomprehensible. Together with the designers, we constantly moved outside of the comfort zone, on the edge of what was possible, and sought after special skills from afar. Despite frustrations along the way, the project also manifested a fun and fruitful collaboration with Salto & Sigsgaard, which has since resulted in many interesting and high-profile tasks. Everything could have gone wrong, but we succeeded together and recreated one of the world’s most important meeting chambers in the most beautiful way in Finn Juhl’s spirit.”

Kasper Salto & Thomas Sigsgaard’s Perspective on the Council Chair

“People ask us what is especially Danish about this chair. Apart from the light Nordic colour and our love of using wood, we also think it has to do with our approach: We put a lot of effort into assembling all possible influences of the assignment before giving it shape. By doing so, we had a good chance of making something useful and relevant. Besides that, there is always a reason for what we do, and that often help us in our discussions with the various teams we work with. For instance, we designed the secretaries’ chairs with armrests. At first the UN was hesitant to allocate chairs with armrests to employees with the status of secretary, and stated “how typical Scandinavian!”, but because we presented them with our intentions, we came to an agreement.”

The Trusteeship Council Chamber embodies the essence of Danish design on the global stage. The warm glow from the wooden panels and the play of colour from the ceiling lend the room an incredibly pleasant feeling, despite being such a monumental space Finn Juhl’s original vision, meticulously preserved in the FJ 51 chairs, is complemented by Salto & Sigsgaard’s contemporary creations. Every detail from the comfortable seating to the organic shapes and the aesthetically pleasing armrests, reflects the designers’ unwavering commitment to human comfort and wellbeing. It is a testament to the thoughtful fusion of Finn Juhl’s timelss design and the modern sensibilities of Salto & Sigsgaard.