Poul Kjaerholm – Danish Furniture Designer

Posted on 8th August 2011 in Danish Furniture Designers

Poul Kjaerholm was a prolific and inspired designer. Born in 1928 and living until 1980 he was expressive of many designers of his time in his use of materials and modern furniture designs.

The Danish School of Arts and Crafts in Copenhagen produced many talented modern furniture designers. Poul attended the school until 1952 after first apprenticing as a cabinetmaker in 1948 with Gronbech.  Once he graduated he went on to teach until 1956.

As much an educator as a designer, he went on to lecture at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, becoming head of the Institute of Design in 1973.

As a designer he was meticulous in the details of construction of his furniture insisting, consistent with modern design, that functionality and form be seamless. With high quality craftsmanship, he created some contemporary furniture with molded plywood producing the minimalist PKO plywood series. However, he became more intrigued with the use of steel as a material source. Light and its refraction upon its surface captured his interest and he conveyed this through pieces like thePK11 dining chair. He insisted that the lines and spaces that his modern furniture created be framed in an architectural perspective. This particular chair exemplified this with exacting lines and just enough organic materials, leather and wood, to make it inviting.

E. Kold Christensen understood and respected Poul’s artistic expression allowing him a free rein to design as he pleased. Producing most of his designs up until his death in 1980, it was a productive collaboration.

While several museums host some of his works, the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London have the largest permanent collections of his works.

In his lifetime he won several awards including twice at the Grand Prix at the Milan Triennale in 1957 and 1960, the Lunning Award in 1958 and the ID Award in 1973. The PK22 was the chair he designed and produced upon graduating from The Danish School of Arts and Crafts and the chair that was responsible for his first award in 1957. It was originally built from hand-woven rattan over steel and his first commercial success. With these same materials he designed the hammock chair in 1965 and the PK31 series that explored cubist proportions, the exact sectioning of space. Looking for an ideal form, he used the dimension 76cm on each side as way to create single modern furniture pieces, a chair and then working to repeat this same cube producing two and three seat sofas.



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