The Danish designer Poul Kjaerholm started off as a cabinetmaker’s apprentice with Gronbech and went to the Danish School of Arts and Crafts in Copenhagen, where he studied under Hans Wegner. He was also known as an educator. Kjaerholm differentiated himself from his contemporaries who worked primarily with wood by focusing on the industrial material steel that he combined with other natural materials. Kjaerholm established himself as an important refined modernist designer in his lifetime, favouring quality over proliferation of his designs.
His PK11 Dining Chair (1957; Triople Chair) resulted from his personal challenge to create “a chair of nothing less than visual beauty”. He succeeded admirably; the chair is nothing less than a visual treat from every angle, and straightforward, exemplifying Kjaerholm’s understanding of materials (he once said that he attempted to express the very language of materials themselves). The tripod frame is made from light, strong steel and the semi-circle backrest is constructed from organic wood.
The PK24 Chaise Longue Chair (1965; Rivera Lounge Chair) is perhaps his most recognizable chair in his oeuvre and epitomizes Kjaerholm’s designs. Inspired by the French Rococo period (still influenced by Renaissance and Baroque elements, but had a lighter, more delicate touch to it all) and the French chaise longue, Kjaerholm designed the adjustable chair with independent elements; the chair is extremely good-looking and a definite statement piece with its purity of style and curves. This is accentuated further with the frame’s flat strip steel rectangular base and the individually hand woven seats. The leather bolster headrest is counterbalanced by a complementary steel bar. Kjaerholm called the Chaise Longue Chair the “Hammock Chair” due to the fact that the chair’s body is suspended between two points.
His PK22 Lounge Chair (1956; Kristen Lounge Chair) is also in the same vein. The profile had already been utilized by Kjaerholm in 1951 in his final graduation project in 1951, the PK25 chair. The PK22 was an immediate sensation and recognised at the prestigious world design fair, the Milan Triennale with the Grand Prix award. It was this that launched Kjaerholm’s international career into a stratospheric rise. It also netted him the Lunning Prize, awarded to two outstanding Scandinavian designers yearly.
Kjaerholm designed the PK20 Lounge Chair (1968; Roxy Lounge Chair) with a distinctive, flexible spring steel frame. The lowback version of the PK20 chair is part of the permanent collection in London’s Victoria and Albert Museum.
Kjaerholm’s PK31 Chair and Sofa series (1958; Jasper Sofa) is both elegant and comfortable, retaining its individualistic qualities whilst at the same time matching every setting. They have trapezoidal arms and an ideal form, with a 76 cm cube form and the seat height at that midpoint.