Poul Kjaerholm designed versatile furniture pieces that were a perfect mix of new methodologies, technology, and craftsmanship: a distinctive Mid-Century Modern feature displayed in his PK chair series. Kjaerholm also considered steel to be a natural material, which in his own opinion had the same artistic quality of wood.
Poul Kjaerholm was one of the most acclaimed mid-century modern Danish furniture designers. He was born on January 8, 1929 in Oster Vra in Denmark. Kjaerholm started his career in 1948 as an apprentice cabinet maker in the town of Hjorring. After working for a short time here, he left for Copenhagen to study architecture and design at the Copenhagen School of Arts and Crafts (1949 -1952). Kjaerholm began an exceptional career as an instructor at the same school in 1952 without stopping his education and carried on teaching until 1956. Poul Kjaerholm was employed at Fritz Hansen for about a year, where he designed a number of noteworthy chair prototypes. In 1955, Kjaerholm started working for Danish producer E. Kold Christensen who was certain of Kjaerholm’s great talent. They both began a professional partnership that lasted for twenty-five long years, ending only with Kjaerholm’s death in 1980.
In 1982, Fritz Hansen took over the production and sales of “The Kjaerholm Collection”, developed from 1951 to 1967. This collection perfectly focuses on minute details with an aura of exclusivity. Poul Kjaerholm designed versatile furniture pieces that were a perfect mix of new methodologies, technologies, and craftsmanship. His approach for designing furniture was exhibited in his diploma project PK25 chair of 1951. He used steel for the frame of the chair with flag rope wrapped around and drawn tight. The design of the seat can be referred to as Standard Modern because of the natural materials like woven cane, leather, and wood used in it. Kjaerholm also considered steel to be a natural material, which in his own opinion had artistic quality on the same level as that of wood.
The PK25 Chair (1951 -52) In 1951, the 23-year old Kjaerholm designed his first chair – the PK25 Lounge Chair – that went in production in 1956. This chair is undoubtedly one of the most famous pieces of Kjaerholm constructed using only one piece of steel and the seat is made from flag rope. This was the start of Poul’s obsession to experiment with the essentials to engineer his concepts into reality.
The PK24 Lounge Chair propelled Kjaerholm into the spotlight in 1956. He earned a Lunning Award for this chair. This piece was renowned for its sophisticated design and elegant curve of its metallic legs. A rattan seat used for the chair made it a light and classy choice for indoor as well as outdoor seating. As compared to PK25, this chair was less sculptural and more refined.
The PK61 Coffee Table, released in 1956, was designed to accompany the PK22 Chair. The limited-edition version had a unique supporting frame noticeable through the glass top. The top of the chair had varieties in slate, granite, marble, or glass.