Designer: Poul Kjaerholm

The PK 24 Chaise Longue was finally realised in 1965 and was easily his most graceful and sculptural effort yet. Again, reflecting earlier design periods, the initial concept behind this piece hailed from the Rococo period and the original French ‘Long Chair’. His method of layering elements is present but here they are left independent from each other, with the swooping seat just resting upon the base which allows the seat position to be adjusted along steel runners to suit individual comfort requirements. I think the lines and shapes of the PK 24 conjure up all manner of images in people’s minds but, personally, when facing the profile of this chair, I always see a breaking wave of cane and steel rolling past. Kjærholm often referred to his design as the “Hammock Chair”, to reflect its function of suspending the body between two fixed points. The seat is finished in wicker or leather and the leather head-roll cushion was, again, an independent element which could be adjusted to suit your height by simply dropping or raising the steel counterweight suspended over the rear of the chair by two leather straps.

The PK24 Chaise

The PK 20 Lounge Chair appeared in 1968 and it was to be his first cantilevered chair design. Again, it has a “Miesian” influence within its marrow hailing from the Tugendhat Chair of 1930, yet it also feels like it was a continuation of the fluidity of his own PK 24 design a few years earlier. The seat was offered in cane or formed of a leather slip cover which was pulled over the upright side bars, much like the format of the PK 22 Chair. But, the sprung steel, cantilever frame was a new direction for Kjærholm which seemed so loose and unbound in appearance compared to previous frame structures he had produced. Was there a slight nod to the Bauhaus tutor, Paul Klee, at the drawing board stage by Kjærholm “taking a line for a walk” with his pencil to create those beautiful curling and uninterrupted lines? He also produced a version with a slightly higher back, which also incorporated a roll-cushion head rest, and this model became known as the PK 20 Easy Chair.

Tugendhat chair PK20 chair

Left: Mies van der Rohe’s Tugendhat Chair. Right: the PK20 Chair

Through the 70’s, Kjærholm’s output slowed somewhat compared to the volume of designs he was producing throughout the previous decade. His PK 27 Lounge Chair (with a rare use of maple wood for the frame) picked up two Danish design awards in ‘71 and ‘72 and a cantilevered arm chair (with a return to his material of choice: brushed steel) appeared in ’74 – the PK 13.

PK27 Lounge Chair

The PK27 Lounge Chair

PK13 Cantilever Chair

The PK13 Cantilever Chair

In 1975, Kjærholm was approached by Knud V. Jensen, Director of the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Denmark, who commissioned him to design seating for a proposed new concert/lecture hall at the museum. The concert hall was to be a square space with raked seating so the passage of the congregation between the rows and the consideration of acoustics was of course vital. Kjærholm worked closely with the architect of the concert hall, Vilhelm Wohlert (who also designed the original museum) and acoustician, Jørgen Petersen, to conjure up a folding seat that would sit comfortably with the white wall and dark mahogany floor scheme. He fought hard to avoid using an upholstered seat because that would of course hide the build of the seat: not his style. So, he developed a simple wooden construction formed of square maple frames for the seat and back which contained strips of woven maple that not only provided a pliant surface for the user but also worked acoustically. The seating was installed in 1976 and Kjærholm duly picked up another award the following year from the Danish Furniture Manufacturers Association for his Louisiana Chair, as it came to be known.

Louisiana Concert Hall Chair

Towards the end of 70’s, whilst still producing work such as a prototype for the PK8 Dining Chair (which eventually reached full production status many years later in 2007) and the PK65 Low Table, Kjærholm’s health began to suffer. In early 1980, he was diagnosed with lung cancer and passed away soon after on the 18th of April at the age of 51.

PK8 Chair PK65 Low Table

Left: the PK8 Chair. Right: the PK65 Low Table

A life cut cruelly short but over that 30 year career span, he has left us a legacy of work that although originally intended to appeal to the masses – financially and aesthetically – has, ironically, vaulted into an exclusive and revered class of its own.

I’ll finish with a quote from the American architect and Poul Kjærholm expert, Michael Sheridan, which very eloquently sums up the ethos behind Kjærholm’s work:

“Like Janus, the Roman god of gates and doorways who looked backwards and forwards at the same time, Kjærholm worked on the threshold between two epochs; Danish craftwork and industrial Modernism, straddling the past and the future and making furniture and spaces that have transcended time.”

A big thank you must go out to Janne Nyegaard and Patrick Fairfield from Fritz Hansen for their invaluable assistance and, of course, Michael Sheridan whose book Poul Kjærholm: Furniture Architect has been an invaluable source of reference in compiling this biography.

MYLES BROWN (c) 2014

Add a Comment

Aram Store Winter Sale December 2014The Aram Store Winter Sale will start online on Boxing Day, 26 December, with a 15% discount off all new orders. The Store in Drury Lane will be closed from 6pm on Tuesday 23 December until 10am on Monday 29 December. Click here for more info on our Christmas opening hours.

Big discounts off ex-display itemsIn store from Monday 29 December there will be up to 70% off selected ex-display items of furniture. As always, these are sold as seen on a first-come-first-served basis and are only available in store.

Here is a small selection of these ex-display items – there will be many more available in store:

Analog Table and 81A TableLeft: Analog 245cm dining table by Jaime Hayon in walnut and black lacquer – was £2,072 sale price £1,450.40. Right: 81A dining table by Alvar Aalto in birch – was £988 sale price £296.40.

Tulip Chair Grand Prix Chair Cherner Chair

Left: Tulip side chair by Eero Saarinen in white with various colour seat pads – was £1,199 sale price £839.30. Centre: Grand Prix chair by Arne Jacobsen in walnut, black or grey coloured wood – was from £455 sale price from £227.50. Right: Cherner armchair by Norman Cherner in classic walnut – was £1,061 sale price £795.75.

Shell Chair Drop Chair CH33 ChairLeft: Limited edition CH07 ‘Shell’ chair by Hans Wegner in teak and oak with red Niger leather seat and back – was £3,384 sale price £2,368.80. Centre: Drop chair by Arne Jacobsen in various colours – was £249 sale price £174.30. Right: Set of four CH33 chairs in white pigmented oak with grey Thor leather seats – was £2,148 sale price £1,503.60.

ARAM STORE

 

Add a Comment

The Bauhaus Movement – established in 1919 – was one of the most influential design philosophies of the last century, particularly in the field of furniture design. In this infographic, we describe the key principles and main protagonists of the movement, and its legacy:

The Bauhaus MovementMany Bauhaus designs are still in production today – authorised by the designers’ estates and made in accordance with the original specifications for materials, quality and craftsmanship. For example, works by Wilhelm Wagenfeld, Marcel Breuer and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, as mentioned above.

ARAM STORE

Add a Comment

The D*Table

In 1903, Henry Ernest Dudeney stunned the mathematical world with his ‘Haberdasher’s Puzzle’, which proved how to turn a perfect equilateral triangle into a perfect square. The artist and sculptor Maty Grünberg utilised this mathematical principle to design an occasional table especially for Aram’s 23rd anniversary celebrations in 1987, which he called the D*Table.

Dudenay's mathematical principle

Maty Grünberg David ben-Grünberg Daniel Woolfson

David ben-Grünberg, Maty Grünberg and Daniel Woolfson with a model of the D*Table, photographed by Barbara Chandler

Now, in Aram’s 50th anniversary year, Maty’s son David ben-Grünberg and his business partner Daniel Woolfson have manufactured the D*Table with up-to-date materials and we are delighted to present this design exclusively to the UK market. Manufactured to the highest standards in a Danish factory (used by Fritz Hansen) from engineered carb 2 timber, the table’s surface is protected by a 0.5mm aluminium layer which is then painted with a non-toxic semi-soft matt finish in either black or white.

The D*Table in black

The D*Table in whiteThere are three hinge points for the four sections of each table and the hinges are formed of flexible upvc. 12 hinges are supplied – 4 in red, black or white – providing an extra one of each colour just in case they get lost down the back of the sofa! Each section swivels on 50mm rubber castors; for stability, we recommend that the sections are not used separately but are always connected by their hinges. The sections provide a variety of storage spaces – shelves, containers, a magazine rack and even a bottle holder. Also provided is a set of four coloured coasters echoing the shape of each section.

D*Table hinge

D*Table Coasters

Come in to the Store at Drury Lane to experience this mathematical phenomenon for yourself, or watch a Vimeo demonstration here:

ARAM STORE

Add a Comments

Grand Repos Lounge Chair and OttomanThis Christmas, Aram Store and Vitra are running an ‘Armchair Masterpieces’ promotion.

Grand Repos Lounge Chair and Panchina

The Grand Repos Lounge Chair by Antonio Citterio was launched in 2011 and became instantly renowned for its comfort. With its generous padding and a synchronised reclining mechanism concealed beneath the upholstery, this elegant swivel-based chair exudes enveloping comfort.

Order a Grand Repos Lounge Chair in fabric upholstery and we will give you either a matching Repos Ottoman (worth £1,058) or a matching Repos Panchina Stool (worth £673) completely free of charge. This offer does not apply to leather versions.

Karuselli Chair and Ottoman

The Karuselli Lounge Chair & Ottoman were designed by Yrjö Kukkapuro in 1964. This modern design classic was the result of numerous experiments and embodies a revolutionary combination of ergonomics, innovative materials and new production methods. The Karuselli is exceptionally comfortable as well as stylistically distinctive, because it is ergonomically derived from the shape and proportions of the human body. Kukkapuro began developing the fibreglass structure in the 1950s and as a result of his persistent efforts, he finally conceived a form that represented a novel combination of ergonomics and artistry.

Order a Karuselli Lounge Chair & Ottoman and we will give you an A331 ‘Beehive’ Pendant Lamp by Alvar Aalto (worth £799) completely free of charge.

Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman

Possibly the most well-known of all is the Lounge Chair & Ottoman by Charles and Ray Eames. Developed over many years and launched in 1956, this modern classic aimed to satisfy the need for a large seating option that combined maximum comfort with unparalleled quality in terms of materials and craftsmanship.

Order an Eames Lounge Chair & Ottoman in any finish and we will give you either a Prismatic Table by Isamu Noguchi (worth £418) or a Merino wool blanket designed by Charles and Ray Eames (worth £306), completely free of charge.

This offer runs until 31 December 2014 for retail customers only, and cannot be used in conjunction with any other offer or discount. For online orders, please place your items – including your choice of free gift – in the shopping basket and the offer will be applied automatically.

ARAM STORE

Comments Off

“With 20 percent of the world’s electricity used for lighting, it’s been calculated that optimal use of LED lighting could reduce this to 4 percent”

- Frances Saunders, President, Britain’s Institute of Physics,
Reuters, 7 October 2014

To celebrate Aram Store’s close partnership with Lumina Italia, we are delighted to offer 20% discount off the Daphine and Daphinette LED lighting range on all orders placed by 30 November 2014*.

Daphine LED

The Daphine Lamp was designed by Tommaso Cimini in 1975 and received a rapturous reception at the Milan Fair that year. It can be found in some of the most famous museums worldwide for art and design, shown as an unrivalled symbol of minimalist elegance and functionality. All Lumina Italia lighting is still produced out of a small factory near Milan and in 2013 Tommaso’s son Ettore introduced an LED option into the Daphine range, prototyped and produced exclusively for Lumina by local Milan engineers.

Lumina Italia

LED bulbs use much less energy than halogen/filament bulbs and, on average, should provide around 50,000 hours of use. Although more expensive to purchase, over time, the LED versions are more economical. Plus, in comparison to halogen lighting, the heat output of LED lighting is dramatically reduced providing peace of mind when using at the bedside or in a children’s room.

Lumina LED development

Available in a range of nine colour finishes, prices start at £209.60 for a Daphinette LED lamp, (usual RRP: £262)

Daphinette LED

See all the colour options and versions here or in store.
*Usual delivery 2-4 weeks.

ARAM STORE

 

Comments Off

After emigrating from Israel in 1957 and working briefly under architect Ernö Goldfinger, Zeev Aram OBE founded his eponymous design business on London’s King’s Road in 1964. After 50 years at the forefront of the industry, Mr Aram knows a thing or two about what constitutes good design – “imagination, creativity, originality, time and passion,” he says.

In this beautiful video made by Crane TV, Mr Aram talks to Tom Jenkins and reflects on the philosophy that informed those 50 years:

Visit Crane TV, a contemporary-culture video magazine focusing on arts, design, style, food and travel, around the world.

ARAM STORE

Comments Off

Designer: Poul Kjaerholm

As the 50’s became the 60’s, Kjærholm began work on designing another table and chair set and in the latter part of 1960, the PK 9 Chair appeared. But, on this occasion, there was no refinement or re-engineering of an existing classic that could be used for inspiration, this chair was truly unique and would go on to be considered as one of the greats of the 20th century. The seat was formed of moulded fibreglass and then covered in leather and was loosely based around his Moulded Aluminium Chair design of ’53. (Had he begun to inspire himself?)

Kjaerholm PK9 Chair

The base of the PK 9 is built with three, curved lengths of sprung steel which were then connected to each other and to the underside of the seat with the, by now, omnipresent Allen bolt. With its organic and fluid lines, the appearance of the PK 9 was certainly a stark contrast from the rigid and straight profiles he had been producing of late but, again, the construction and legibility of the design was there for all to see.

PK91 Stool

The PK91 Stool

Another key Kjærholm piece began development in 1961 and was the clearest indication yet of the research he put into understanding and then redeveloping historical models of furniture whilst teaching at The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts through ‘55 to ‘59. It’s also possible that this way of thinking had trickled down a little earlier to Kjærholm whilst studying under Hans J Wegner who in turn had been tutored by the renowned architect and furniture designer, Kaare Klint; the first lecturer in furniture design at Royal Academy. The folding frame design of Kjærholm’s PK 91 Stool could be linked back to Ancient Egypt and Klint had produced his own folding stool design in 1927The Propeller Stool – based around an example displayed at the Egyptian Museum in Berlin.

Kaare Klint Propeller Stool

Kaare Klint’s Propeller Stool from 1927

But, where the folding frame of Klint’s design was finished in wood, Kjærholm chose to construct his model using steel. But not just flat steel, of course; he added the same sublime flourish that Klint had by delicately twisting the steel frame and then applied a ball bearing joint which allowed the stool to be folded completely flat. The seat is finished in either canvas or leather and is discreetly connected to the frame by a length of steel inserted into the seam edge of the seat material which is then clipped over the top edge of the steel frame.

PK54 Table

To accompany the PK 9 Chair, the PK 54 Dining Table went into production in 1963 and re-worked the design of the base of his PK 55 Table into a continuous framework using four cantilevered steel, square frames. The circular top that rested upon the underframe was formed of marble and the 140cm diameter size allowed four PK 9 Chairs to be seated comfortably around it. But, just two elements of natural material (yes, Kjærholm had come to consider steel to be a natural material with the same variables and uniqueness as seen in any other geotic and naturally occurring material) in one product was clearly not enough for Kjaerholm.

PK54A Table

So, he devised an optional way of expanding the circular top to 210cm in diameter by introducing six, interlocking leaves of curved, solid maple wood that could be attached to the edge of the marble top by means of a simple tongue and groove system. The connection of the leaves was then given an extra assurance by O-rings placed on the underside at the join of each leaf. This expanded version of the table became known as the PK 54A and he even designed a discreet, solid maple wood rack as a storage facility for the extension leaves when not in use.

PK54A Table

This beautiful melding and layering of materials, as well as the loading of different shapes, was becoming a key part of Kjærholm’s aesthetic but with every new design he produced, he still managed to keep the volume down on its existence. It just sits there, daring you to try and look past it. The next design he released from the drawing board needn’t worry about attracting an audience: this piece was a neck breaker.

To be continued…

Comments Off

Designer: Poul Kjaerholm

Before we carry on into 1957, I would just like to take a side-step to show, for those not aware, the reasoning behind Kjaerholm’s use of numbers to name each of his designs. The truth is, is that there is no real complex system to the formatting; it was just a way of categorising the products by type whilst also revealing, yet again, a continued attempt to pare down his furniture to the bare element and function: chair, table, stool etc. Initially, when working with Kold Christensen, each design was just referred to by numbers but following Kjærholm’s death, once production had been taken over by Fritz Hansen, the numbered designs were prefaced by his initials. The table below should help to explain:

Poul Kjaerholm Numbers

And so, back to 1957 and the birth that year of another future icon from Kjærholm’s stable – the PK 80 Daybed.

Yet again, Mies van Der Rohe provided him with the inspiration but just like before, whilst the Barcelona Daybed was clearly a blueprint in his thoughts when developing his couch, he then went on to simplify and refine that initial idea to produce a piece of furniture that quietly commands attention in any space you choose to use it in.

PK80 PK91

PK 80 Daybed with PK 91 Stool

The PK 80 also revealed another, key structural connector that would go on to signify a Kjærholm design – the rubber ‘O-ring’. But, whereas the Allen bolt provided a visible, fixed connection to show the elemental nature of his designs, the O-ring allowed Kjærholm to firmly connect the three layers of components (steel, plywood, leather seat pad) contained in the PK 80 whilst also providing the opportunity to easily disassemble the component parts without the use of any tools.

PK 80 Detail

This layering of independent components connected by O-rings was also apparent in his PK 33 Stool design which appeared a year later in 1958. Along with the Allen bolt, the O-ring brought Kjærholm nearer and nearer to the brink of his mission in finding and revealing a “pure construction” within his work.

PK 33 Stool

PK 33 Stool

If we momentarily jump forward to 2004, I can share a story involving the PK 80 which shows the enduring nature of Kjærholm’s designs sprinkled with a little mysticism. The Museum of Modern Art in New York approached Fritz Hansen in that year with regards to installing the daybed for visitors to use in their galleries. But, they made a special request and asked for the height of the seat to be extended in order to bring it in line with the height at which the majority of their canvases were hung, thus providing a more comfortable viewing platform for their visitors.

Fritz Hansen were of course delighted that such a prestigious institution wished to house a piece of furniture they produced and duly approached the family of Kjærholm to check the scope in honouring MOMA’s request. Hanne Kjærholm, Poul’s widow, held control of her late husband’s legacy of designs at that time and before accepting Fritz Hansen’s proposal on behalf of MOMA, they were informed that she would “need to discuss this matter with Poul”. Obviously, the powers that be at Fritz Hansen were a little thrown by this response but had no choice but to abide and wait for a decision. When the official response materialised, it was positive and they were given the go-ahead but, according to Hanne, Poul had told her that if they wished to change the seat height of the Daybed, they would also need to adjust the thickness of the seat cushion so it wouldn’t lose its original balance in proportions.

PK 80 MOMA New York

But, fear not, Kjærholm was not actually making design decisions and alterations from the afterlife. A reliable source at Fritz Hansen tells me that after speaking to Thomas Kjærholm (his son), it appears that this piece of whimsy on Hanne’s part was made up and just a light-hearted way of saying that the philosophy behind her husband’s work should be respected. Hanne Kjærholm passed away in 2009 and the rights to the Kjærholm collection were passed on to her children, Thomas and Krestine, who still uphold a firm protection over their father’s collection against any changes or tweaks Fritz Hansen may wish to discuss.

 To be continued…

Comments Off

Eileen Gray Villa E1027

Marco Orsini’s documentary Gray Matters will receive its world premiere at the Architecture and Design Film Festival in New York on 15th October.

Gray Matters is the story of Eileen Gray, the 20th Century artist whose vision, imagination and sensibility changed the way we live, within both houses and their furniture. The documentary is a historical, scholarly and cinematic investigation of the life of one of the most significant, but otherwise little known, contemporary artists. It includes, amongst others, an interview with Zeev Aram, to whom Eileen Gray granted the worldwide licence to make and distribute her designs in 1973.

The Gray Matters documentary “teaser” trailer from Marco Antonio Orsini on Vimeo.

ARAM STORE

Comments Off