Poul Kjaerholm exhibition Natural Simplicity @ Dansk Møbelkunst Gallery

17 NOVEMBER – 20 DECEMBER 2023

Poul Kjærholm (1929-1980) was born in Øster Vrå, a small town located in the rugged landscape of Northern Jutland. Initially he trained as a cabinetmaker, before moving to Copenhagen to study furniture design at the School of Arts and Crafts, from where he graduated in 1952. His long-standing association with The Royal Danish Academy of Arts began in 1955, first as a teaching assistant, then lecturer and culminating in a Professorship in 1976 succeeding Professors Kaare Klint and Ole Wanscher.

 

 

The foundation for Kjærholm’s work was a thorough understanding of materials and an ability to highlight their natural qualities. Kjærholm was strongly rooted in the Danish furniture tradition but he was equally fascinated by international functionalism, in particular the leading figures Mies van der Rohe and Marcel Breuer – an inspiration that is manifested in his love of steel. In contrast to his contemporaries, Kjærholm believed that steel should be processed with the same sensitivity as traditionally practiced with wood. He thereby created a continuum of the Danish cabinetmaking discipline with the same standards for quality, materiality and form.

 

 

Kjærholm spent the first year after graduation at Fritz Hansen Furniture Makers, working primarily with developing prototypes and experimenting with materials. The position ended after less than a year, after which Kjærholm continued to experiment independently, developing prototypes in steel wire, cast aluminium, sheet metal and reinforced concrete, none of which went into production.

 

 

In 1955 furniture manufacturer Ejvind Kold Christensen contacted Kjærholm and the two men agreed to form a partnership that would produce and market all of Kjærholm’s future work. The lifelong collaboration with Kold Christensen was a new beginning for Kjærholm which allowed him to unfold his full potential, designing furniture defined solely by its function and materials.

 

 

Ultimate simplicity is rarely as simple as it seems. It is often just the opposite; the manifestation of persistent and deliberate engagement and complex thinking. Kjærholm mastered the difficult art of designing furniture with natural obviousness and elegance despite the complexity of their design and execution.

 

 

To complement Kjærholm’s light and minimalist idiom, the furniture is presented in dialogue with renowned Cypriot designer Michael Anastassiades’ lighting design. Anastassiades’ consistent materiality and aesthetics embody a poetic simplicity that exudes vitality. In combination with Anastassiades’ lamps, Kjærholm’s unique sense of space and uncompromising focus on entirety is highlighted.

The exhibition is open until December 20, 2023

 

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