My White Whale | Hans Olsen's Roundette Set for Frem Rojle

May 13, 2013 | Alex

I think I may have discovered my white whale. Hans Olsen's Roundette Set for Frem Rojle tortures me. Well, technically, the source of my torture is the seemingly endless font of individuals on PinterestApartment Therapy  or Flickr  who leave comments like:

  1. "Oh, my parents had one of these sets when I was growing up. They sold it at a garage sale for $20."
  2. "I have this dining set! Scooped it up at a thrift shop for $40."
  3. "My husband rescued one of these funny looking dining set off the curb just the other day. Not sure if I really like it..."

What!? Who are you people (especially you, no. 3. Cherish thy dumpster diving husband) and where do you live? I suspect I know the answer to the latter question-- it's "Not in NYC." This may be the greatest city on earth, but it's also a place where people recognize the worth of danish modern designs. But perversely, New Yorkers are the square-footage deprived population most in need of ready and affordable access to Olsen's ingenious design!


I've run nearly 80 google searches using any and every word I could think of to describe the object of my desire to no affordable avail (FYI, the Bible is mute on the subject of coveting thy neighbor's vintage dining set.) Sure, there's an original Hans Olsen for Frem Rojle Dining Set  available via 1st dibs for a cool $2,315 (not including shipping from the Netherlands.) Or Chelsea Textile's Olsen-inspired "Round Table with Four Chairs", which mystifyingly rings up for more than a vintage original at $3,282. (Although Chelsea Textile's color options  are appealing.) But when do I get to stumble upon a garage sale gem or a garbage-heap dinette set?

Left: via  1st Dibs ; Right: via  Chelsea Textiles  

Left: via 1st Dibs; Right: via Chelsea Textiles 

I thought I'd experienced a breakthrough last night, when I stumbled upon this set of three vintage 3-legged chairs  on Ebay described as "in the style of Hans Wegner" (a fairly common mix-up stemming, I think, from the similarity of Wegner's 3-legged Heart Chair. Also, I guess, they're both named Hans...) The seats needed new upholstery and the wood refinishing, but I was excited to restore them to their former glory. I spent dinner day dreaming about the magnificent transformation we'd undergo together, outside in the June sun, with a gentle sanding block and a sponge brush. I even sketched out a plan to build a corresponding table using parts from

In retrospect, I was silly and naive to imagine that I could win an Ebay auction my first time out of the gates. I was the winning bidder for 3 hours. 3 hours in which I compulsively checked my email for news that I'd been outbid-- news that never came. Glued to my computer, I watched the auction count down to the final seconds when the Olsen chairs (at $40 a pop) would be mine. Then...a pop-up notification: "Sorry. You didn't win..." Huh? How is that possible? Clicking through the bidding history, I discovered that a much more savvy Ebay-er had waited until the final seconds to outbid me. So that I'd have no opportunity to bid again before the auction closes. SO SNEAKY! I feel robbed. (Albeit a little wiser on how to play the Ebay game.)

And so the whale hunt continues...