“Steel’s constructive potential is not the only thing that interests me; the refraction of light on its surface is an important part of my artistic work. I consider steel a material with the same artistic merit as wood and leather.”
It’s not that difficult to establish which of the iconic designers, whose designs feature on Pash Classics, once made this quote. His designs bring about the most perfect blend of steel and natural leather whilst maintaining a simplicity that could have only come from Denmark.
Poul Kjærholm, a cabinetmaker by trade and a master of industrialist design and Danish minimalism by practice, remains one of the most relevant furniture designers to this day almost 65 years after his designs first reached the limelight.
Born in the small Danish village of Øster Vrå, Kjærholm progressed after a cabinetmaking apprenticeship to the Danish School of Arts and Crafts in Copenhagen in 1952. It was here that the young designer’s influential future would be spawned.
Whilst at the school he became aware of and worked alongside Kaare Klint, who is widely regarded as the father of modern Danish furniture design, and whose work is epitomised by clean lines and the best possible use of materials and craftsmanship available. A year later in 1953, Kjærholm married Hanne Kjærholm who would prove to be a leading figure in Danish architecture and provide a great help in getting women’s architecture noticed.
Alongside these two great influencers, Kjærholm noted several movements including German Bauhaus and the Dutch De Stijl, as well as iconic designers Van der Rohe and Charles & Ray Eames as great factors in progressing his own designs.
By the mid 1950’s, Kjærholm had started to produce his own furniture designs in collaboration with good friend and entrepreneur Ejvind Kold Christiansen. Christiansen gave great artistic freedom to Kjærholm and together they produced his first range of furniture, the PK0 Plywood Series.
The PK0 Plywood Series stayed true to Poul’s influences by using simple lines to create a beautiful piece of furniture crafted from high quality materials. However, it was later in 1956 when his designs started to take on his now famous forms of sculpted stainless steel.
The PK22 was created as a more refined and practical version of an old PK design, the PK25. Made from multiple pieces of stainless steel and upholstered in leather, the chair won international acclaim and paved the way for future PK designs to be characterised with simple aesthetics and little decoration. The chair also embodied his ethos for mixing steel and natural materials.
Poul often designed furniture with a particular space in mind and a fascination of the effect achieved by placing a piece of furniture in an architectural space. It’s this realisation that furniture can make a statement in ones interior without being over designed that has allowed the PK range to remain as beautiful and contemporary today as they were 60 years ago.
In testament to Kjærholm’s influence, he was awarded the Danish ID Prize for Product Design and became head for the Institute for Design and professor from 1973 until his death in 1980. Pieces of his work are held in permanent collections at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Victoria & Albert in London.
Danish design is all about simplicity and democracy. Great pieces of furniture should be available to everyone and not exclude. This is where Poul Kjærholm’s Chairs play an important part in continuing this ideology. Crafted from stainless steel and Italian leather to stay perfectly in keeping with the original designs, each chair is affordable without the sacrifice of high quality.