Otto Larsen was one of New Zealand's most prolific and successful furniture makers of the 1960s and 70s.
The elegant, contemporary furniture produced by Otto Larsen during the mid 20th century helped introduce many Kiwi families to the clean lines and organic forms of the Scandinavian modern aesthetic. Larsen immigrated to New Zealand from Denmark in 1958 and was quick to set up a workshop in Auckland to produce locally made furniture inspired by the designs his home country was known for.
Larsens designs often heavily reference works by other Danish designers but were adapted slightly to suit local preferences and manufacturing technology. This was a trend embraced by most of the large commercial furniture makers in New Zealand at the time. The most recognisable version of another Dane's work would be Larsen's 'Da Nina' dining chair which closely resemble the work of Erik Buch.
From the 1950s up to the late 80s there were heavy import restrictions in place in New Zealand. Without Otto Larsen's work, many Kiwi's would never have been exposed to the contemporary international designs he produced locally. Larsen's work allowed middle class families to experience and afford beautifully crafted danish influenced furniture.
At his peak, Larsen designed and produced a large range of household furniture and design objects. Every room in the house could potentially be filled with something from Otto Larsen. Bedroom drawers, dining suites, sideboards, lounge suites, even lazy suzans were produced and sold to a public eager for the latest in Scandinavian design.
The 1980's saw a move away from Scandinavian influenced design. This, combined with a lifting of the import restrictions (leading to an influx of cheaply made low quality furniture) spelled the beginning of the end of Otto Larsen furniture production. Fortunately the legacy of his work continues today and it has been rediscovered by a new generation of passionate collectors. As the label underneath many pieces of his furniture stated "Today's quality furniture, tomorrows antiques".