His dog was named “Happy” and so it seems was he. Born in Denmark, his colorful albeit short life, 1926 – 1998, influenced many contemporary furniture designers of his time. With his psychedelic use of colors and his futuristic use of plastics to create other worldly styled modern furniture, he stretched the boundaries of gravity and color. Vibrant and exciting with a 1960’s flavor, he was known as Denmark’s most influential furniture and interior designer of his time.
His design background was started by studying architecture at the Royal Danish Academy of Art in Copenhagen and then working for a short time for Arne Jacobsen. Not able to be restrained he opened his own design and architectural firm. Working with ideas of the physically impossible such as a collapsible house in 1955 and the Cardboard House and the Plastic House in 1960, his ideas were evolving on a concurrent line with his interior and furnishings designs.
Just as his architecture became more innovative so did his furniture designs where he literally began eliminating any evidence of obvious physical structure. In 1960 he produced the first single-form injection molded plastic chair, the Stacking chair or nicknamed, the S chair. With an appearance more like a piece of ribbon rather than a chair, it was made of plywood with two variations for the back, one rounded and one a subtle dip in the middle. With no legs or any obvious source of support, it seems to almost be suspended in space. He also designed rounded storage cupboards with sliding doors. Made of molded plywood he offered lacquered or veneered surfaces in a variety of sizes.
Perhaps his most innovative was the Flying chair he designed in 1963 and 1964. While the world of modern furniture was busy exploring the concept of seeming weightlessness, he literally suspended this chair from the ceiling on two sides with the ability to be adjusted in height. Plywood molds were used having the look of a half shell and upholstered with a fabric cover.
Not satisfied to experiment with the space age materials during this time, he chose to expand his contemporary furniture into a complete interior environment. Here, spaces explode with textures, curving furniture and walls, eye popping lights and textiles enchanting to both sight and to touch. Commissioned twice to design for the 1970 “Visona 2” exhibit at the Cologne furniture fair, he never failed to excite and ignite the world of modern furniture.