Erling Torvits a little known Danish Mid-Century furniture designer

Erling Torvits a little known Danish Mid-Century furniture design.

Arne Jacobsen, Finn Juhl and Hans Wegner were the giants of Mid-Century Danish furniture design then came 10 or 12 other successful prolific designers whose designs are sought after today. However there were another 40 or 50 Danes who made successful livings as furniture designers and sometimes also as architects each with pieces that today are recognised as being well worth looking out for. If these 40 or 50 people had been born in any other country other than Denmark they would have been so much better known today. This blog puts the spotlight on one of these guys, Erling Torvits.

We can’t find much about him but he was born in 1925 and trained as a cabinet maker, graduating in 1944. Initially he worked in Copenhagen for A.J.Iversen before setting up his own small design studio in Herning in Jutland. His best known designs like so many Mid-Century designers are from the mid 1950’s to the mid 1960’s so from round the age of 30 to 40 he was at his most successful. Today he is best known perhaps for his nesting tables and coffee tables for Heltborg Mobler but he also designed some lovely sofas and chairs as well as some cabinet pieces.

We’ve had a number of Heltborg Mobler pieces in the past and it seems they specialised in making occasional tables as it’s their nesting sets of 3 tables that we usually find. Sure enough the set of Heltborg tables we recently sourced were one of Erling Torvits best known designs,  a model that looks as if it’s legs are just about to stride off and move around the room!

They are shown in the Danish Design Museum furniture index as being designed in 1958. This particular set has strong makers marks and looks to date from around 1958 to maybe 1962 perhaps.

Erling Torvits is known to have designed for the small Danish maker Knud Nielsen and coincidentally we recently bought a sideboard by that maker so it may also be an Erling Torvits design.  Many Danish pieces are still to be attributed  to specific designers and even makers. One of his sofa and chair designs is made today in Denmark and is known as the “Sushi”. Like many great Danish Mid-Century designs it’s been recently re-issued presumably under licence. These re-issued pieces can be extremely expensive and it is usually upholstery that is the easiest to reproduce, usually using different more readily available timbers than the originals. You certainly don’t find teak being used today as it was in the 1950’s and 1960’s, light oak and cherry being more easily produced.