Poul Kjaerholm: Superb SteelCraft
Danish designer Poul Kjaerholm began his creative career as a cabinetmaker’s apprentice and continued his studies at the Danish School of Arts and Crafts in Copenhagen in 1952. While studying under masters Hans Wegner and Jørn Utzon (an industrial designer and architect of the Sydney Opera House) he honed his use of industrial methods and materials and brought a fresh, graceful approach to Danish modern design. Kjaerholm embraced the use of steel, rather than wood for framing his chairs and tables, unlike most of his Danish counterparts. He chose to incorporate other natural materials in his pieces, wood, leather, cane and marble to soften the steel forms.
From the mid-1950’s he worked for Ejvind Kold Christiansen, a friend and entrepreneur who gave Kjaerholm tremendous artistic freedom to produce a sleek extensive range of furnishings. Kjaerholm married Hanne (Kjaerholm) who became a successful architect, the pair being a Danish power design couple. Kjaerholm’s designs can be found as part of the collection in the Museum of Modern Art as well as the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, as well as throughout many museums in Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Germany. Since 1982 the Republic of Fritz Hansen has been producing a wide range of his products to his exact specifications.
The extremely rare Holscher Chair c. 1953, named for Svend Holscher, (a blacksmith in the town of Rødby and father of friend Knud), is an example of Kjaerholm’s innovative construction techniques. The steel tube frame, manufactured by Holscher, supports the seat and back constructed of halyard wrapped by Hanne and Poul Kjaerholm. These chairs were only manufactured for the Kjaerholm family and friends.
The PK31 Lounge Chair, the “Hammock Chair”, is one of Kjaerholm’s iconic pieces. The exterior shape of the piece is defined by a cube, with the seat height at the midpoint. This chair can be tailored to a room whether modern or more traditional. The base of the chair is a matte chrome finish with black leg ferrules, the shell, a cognac leather with loose down filled cushions. The artful PK31 lounge chair defines sculptural design and luxury.
Another Kjaerholm iconic piece, the PK24 Chaise Longue, stands out as perhaps his most recognizable piece. Inspiration for this chair came from the Rococo period and the design of the classic French chaise longue. Steel and wicker are the showcased materials, along with the mechanical design concept of “neutral-equilibrium principle” where there is no physical connection between the main parts and the piece is instead kept together by gravity and the friction between the elements. Even the pillow headrest perched at the top of the chair is unattached and counterbalanced by a bar on the back of the chair. The PK24 is one of Kjaerholm’s most brilliantly functional architectural furniture designs.
Kjaerholm’s Tripod Chair c. 1953, consists of a molded aluminum seat resting upon three steel tube legs. This piece boasts clean lines and inspired rethinking of a classic four leg chair. Available in blue, black, yellow and white it adds a welcome pop of color in any space.
The extraordinary PK9 Chair c. 1961 is another Kjaerholm classic design. Also referred to as the “Tulip Chair” the simple yet distinguished form is a classic side chair perched on a satin-brushed steel tripod base with a nylon inner shell and a leather covered seat. A perfect piece for a dining room or desk application.
The Snedkerier Lounge Chair c. 1952 is a piece constructed solely out of wood and jute. It was designed by Poul Kjaerholm and Jørgen Høj and is quite rare and collectible.
This rare Kjaerholm Hanging Candelabrum showcases his simple elegant style in steel. About 200 of the PK101 pieces were produced between 1959 and 1966. The pieces were manufactured for E. Kold Christensen.