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University of Copenhagen
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Thieves win: UCPH forced to hide designer furniture

The University of Copenhagen has put its stash of remaining designer chairs in storage, after wave of theft

Thieves that repeatedly stole expensive designer chairs from the University of Copenhagen (UCPH) have forced the university to hide their design classics away.

The chairs were designed by Hans Wegner in the 1950s and are a part of the Danish design canon. Collectors, thieves and presidents alike love them. At DKK 30,000 a piece, President Kennedy would rest his back in just such a chair.

Last year, thieves rinsed the UCPH boardroom of 24 Wegner chairs, bought to go with the giant Wegner table the university received as a gift. A new lot of chairs was brought in and the room locked and access limited, so only staff with key-cards and passwords could enter.

Chairs hidden away

Still a further three chairs disappeared recently.

Campus Service City Manager, Erwin Koster Kristensen explains that the university has now hidden the chairs at a ‘secret location’. A reporter from the Danish section of this media Universitetsavisen visited the exiled chairs under an oath of secrecy as to their location.

According to Erwin Koster Kristensen, the chairs will be in storage until a secure solution is found:

Theft is inevitable

»We had actually considered the board room to be a secure spot, but the thieves are bold. Apparently they don’t care about electronic access control, and have presumably acted during the daytime,« says Erwin Koster Kristensen.

He adds that theft will always be an issue at universities as large as UCPH, with rooms that are more or less public. Previously the university has lost designer Arne Jacobsen chairs and fancy copper lamps from the main building at Frue Plads.

Erwin Koster Kristensen acknowledges that security could be tighter, and says that several models are being considered.

‘Repeat-theft surprising’

There is no room in the budget for an army of night guards and attack dogs though: Audible alarms and a new web-based surveillance system are among the possibilities, says Kristensen.

Theft at the university normally comes in waves – the thieves stop taking the risk once the police is involved, so it is surprising that the board room is targeted again and again.

»We could install an alarm that howls when you enter the room,« says Erwin Koster Kristensen. »But that would put staff at risk too, and it requires having someone on to switch the system on and off and apprehend thieves.«

No insurance for UCPH

The upkeeping of designer chairs at a time of cutbacks and financial retrenchment for the University is, of course, controversial.

»Maybe it would be best if UCPH bought some decent furniture by young designers that isn’t as precious and attractive to thieves.«

As a public institution, the University of Copenhagen is not insured.

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