Since 1981, Café Victor has been a hip hang in downtown Copenhagen, the type of spot one goes to see and to be seen. It is a Danish version of an artsy French brasserie, offering Parisian elegance and atmosphere in spades with a hint of Scandinavian flare. When Café Victor's doors opened, it also marked the debut of a brand-new chair: the 8000 Series by Danish furniture manufacturer Magnus Olesen. In the decades that followed, The New York Times would call Café Victor "popular with the cognoscenti for drinks" and a spot for "the Gucci crowd." That kind of clientele means that the 8000 Series is not your average chair.
Designed by Rud Thygesen and Johnny Sørensen, the chair borrows from Finnish designer Alvar Alto's iconic Stool 60 and German-Austrian Michael Thonet's famous bentwood cafe chairs. (A veritable world tour of influences.) Like Alto's famed stool, the 8000 Series chair leverages smart manufacturing to produce its elemental-yet-striking design. And unlike Thonet's bentwood chairs, the 8000 Series is neatly stackable. The back has a slight curve, extending barely wider than the seat itself, and the legs are flared out ever so slightly to offer more stability. Yes, these little design choices were made in the name of function, but they add to a more sophisticated profile.
Thygesen and Sørensen had created a hit. It might have initially been for Copenhagen's hippest cafe, but the chair soon showed up across the country.
Thygesen, the son of an architect, originally wanted to work in fashion, interning at a magazine before he got a job at a furniture shop in Copenhagen where he sold pieces by Borge Mogensen and Hans Wegner. He then applied for Design School in Copenhagen, where he met Johnny Sørensen. (Upon graduation, the two would form a studio together in 1966.) Sørensen, the son of two factory workers, apprenticed at a carpentry workshop in a shipyard before ending up at the same school as Thygesen. The two men caught their big break when commissioned to produce an exclusive furniture collection—full of bleached mahogany, cane backing, and delicate joinery—for King Frederik IX of Denmark for his 70th birthday.
The duo's furniture—from beach and leather lounge chairs to ebonized wood end tables to wall-mounted seating—would receive worldwide acclaim, including the best-in-show awards in Denmark, Japan, and the United States. Today, the designs sit in museums in as many countries. The 8000 Series would be the work that went the furthest, ending up in Danish schools and government buildings and becoming a covetable piece for vintage collectors.
Last year, to celebrate its 40th anniversary, Magnus Olesen revamped and relaunched the design in a wonderfully glossy FSC lacquered beach. When the chair debuted back in 1981, it was offered in very of-the-era primary colors: blue, red, or yellow. At the time, Thygesen and Sørensen had picked additional colors that never saw the light of day. Those, along with several new muted shades, were included in the 8000 Series' relaunch. And whether in a hot pink or a washed-out grey, the chair looks as hip as ever.