Poul Kjærholm – the man behind masterpieces like the PK22 – had a fascination for steel and a love of natural materials. Poul Kjærholm was a trained carpenter and continued his studies at the Danish School of Arts and Crafts. He had a particular interest in different construction materials; especially steel which he considered a natural material with the same artistic fineness as other natural materials.
Poul Kjærholm was employed at Fritz Hansen for about a year, where he designed a number of noteworthy chair prototypes. In 1955 Poul Kjærholm initiated his collaboration with manufacturer Ejvind Kold Christensen, which lasted until Poul Kjærholm's death in 1980. In 1982, Fritz Hansen took over the production and sales of "The Kjærholm Collection", developed from 1951 to 1967, designs, which are logical to the minute detail with an aura of exclusivity. In 2007 Fritz Hansen added two new pieces to the Kjærholm Collection. Pieces that were never in production before: the PK8™ chair and PK58™ dining table.
POUL KJÆRHOLM’S LOVE FOR MATERIALS TRANSPARENT DESIGN For Poul Kjærholm, simplicity was essential. He insisted on materials
of the highest quality and designed for transparency. Indeed, nothing in Kjærholm’s designs is unnecessary or cosmetic. ‘The important thing is to express the personality of the material – not mine,’ he said. ‘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.’
Poul Kjærholm studied at the design school in Copenhagen under Hans Wegner, the master cabinet maker and designer in wood. It’s interesting that Poul Kjærholm chose steel rather than wood in his early productions, treating flat steel with the same delicacy that a wood cabinetmaker approaches his material. Poul Kjærholm was transparent in showing all the visual connections between elements of his designs, including screws. He didn’t try to hide things, but – rather –made them a part of coherent designs. Some consider Kjærholm’s work ‘industrial’ in appearance. Appropriately, perhaps, Kjærholm called himself a ‘furniture architect.’
The simple dimensions of his designs require complicated welding. All the grinding must meet perfectly, and the level of detailing is extremely high. Today, Kjærholm pieces like the PK20 and PK22 are all assembled by hand. The integrity and resilience of spring steel ensures that designs are long lasting and strong. The continuous and rather complex design of the PK25™ frame would be impossible without it. This kind of extraordinary design is inherently linked to material – in this case, steel and Poul Kærholm’s desire for the purest expression of his choice material