Designer: Poul Kjaerholm

Whilst working at the Fritz Hansen factory, Kjærholm was given a chance to experiment with industrial materials and also to begin developing an idea that was first conceived back in 1950 – a black painted plywood chair that would go on to become the PK 0 Chair.  The chair was formed of two pieces of laminated plywood that were then joined under the seat by rubber shock absorbers and although the appearance and seating position of the PK 0 must clearly have been influenced by the classic LCW Chair, designed by Charles and Ray Eames in 1945, it almost feels as if Kjærholm has simplified his interpretation by using only two elements as opposed to the five used to construct the LCW.

PK0 chair and LCW chair

The PK0 (left) and the LCW (right)

But, sadly, the PK 0 Chair never reached production stage and his stay at Fritz Hansen lasted barely a year.  Unfortunately, in the very same year he was given a chance to realise his design for the PK 0, Fritz Hansen were immersed in developing Arne Jacobsen’s Ant Chair; the first stackable chair formed from a single piece of laminated plywood.  Jacobsen had been commissioned to design the chair for use in the canteen of the pharmaceutical company, Novo Nordisk, and they signed an order for 300 units.  Kjærholm, with complete confidence in his design and a deep yearning to see his chair on the production line, then, rather bullishly, suggested to Søren Hansen that he make a choice between producing the PK 0 or the Ant.  Understandably, from a business point of view, Hansen went with the Ant and Kjærholm walked away from Fritz Hansen with his prototype under his arm.

The PK0 Chair

Luckily, this wasn’t the end of the PK 0.  Ironically, but also with a nod towards the importance of this design, in 1997, Fritz Hansen produced a limited run of 600 editions of the PK 0 Chair in celebration of the company’s 125th Anniversary.

The Moulded Aluminium Chair

The Moulded Aluminium Chair

Throughout 1953/54, after his departure from Fritz Hansen, Kjærholm began making connections with some of Denmark’s leading design and architectural practices which afforded him the time and opportunity to continue exploring the idea of producing furniture as an industrial product.  In 1953, he was contacted by a furniture manufacturer called Chris Sørensen because he had seen the PK 0 and approached Kjærholm with the intention of setting up a relationship.  He took Sørensen up on his proposal and began working on a design for a new, lightweight metal chair along with a graphic identity for their new joint venture.   His initial sketches for this metal chair appear to show a bowl-like seat that stood upon three legs and these rough outlines would go on to produce a prototype of the Moulded Aluminium Chair.   The seat was formed of injection moulded aluminium and the three legs were cleverly connected to the underside of the seat via the bursas that were left from where the aluminium was injected and a couple of compulsory vent holes that allowed air to escape from the mould.  They only produced a modest run of just 20 chairs but this design clearly showed Kjærholm’s way of thinking at that time, with the intent to produce a new design that could be mass-produced and easily shipped: seat shells stacked, legs inserted upon arrival with the end user.

To be continued…

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Eero Saarinen Conference Chair

In collaboration with Charles Eames, Eero Saarinen won the Museum of Modern Art’s ‘Organic Design’ competition in 1941 with their ridiculously comfortable and graceful looking Organic Chair – the perfect blend of form and function. Following this success, Saarinen plunged himself into further studies on how to produce a comfortable chair through the shape of its shell rather than the depth of its upholstery.

Organic Chair

The Organic Chair

His initial research was spent working with fibreglass and using this material to create a new, comfortable task chair design. But, after an approach by Florence Knoll, suggesting he make her “a big chair I can curl up in… like a basket of pillows”, he went big, really big, and produced his (Model 70) Womb Chair design in 1946. It was an instant success and has gone on to become one of the most iconic chair designs from that period and certainly planted Saarinen as an essential figure in mid-century design. But Saarinen was still keen on producing a range of smaller, task seating and by making a reduction in form of his Womb Chair design; his Executive Models 71 (arm chair) and 72 (side chair) were first realised in 1950.

Womb Chair

The Womb Chair and Footstool

64 years later, the design has stood its ground and is still an immediate go-to chair for anyone looking for stylish and supremely comfortable dining or breakout seating. It is still referred to as the Executive Chair in the US but a few years ago, the name was changed to the Conference Chair by Knoll Studio (the European arm of Knoll International) here in the UK and across mainland Europe.

Conference Chair

It has always been available to order upholstered in a wide range of fabrics and leathers and the 4-leg base is finished in either solid oak wood or chromed steel. But, Knoll have recently introduced a couple of new wooden leg finishes, in the form of walnut or grey stained oak, and also a ‘Special Edition’ upholstery leather called Venezia – a beautifully soft, full grain leather with a beeswax finish available in 5 colours.

Conference Chair

We currently have examples of the Conference Chair, with the new grey stained oak legs, on display here at the Store along with a sample book of the new Venezia Leather range.

ARAM STORE

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Designer: Poul Kjaerholm

Aram Store has recently become part of a select trio of ‘preferred partners’ to whom Fritz Hansen has granted the sole right to supply the entire range of Poul Kjærholm designed furniture, still produced by the Danish manufacturers, throughout the UK.

For our customers who may not be that familiar with Kjærholm’s life and work, the following post is the first in a series of articles which should hopefully provide a detailed insight into his life, philosophy and method of working that came to produce these timeless designs that we display and sell at Aram Store today but that you also may have seen, and unknowingly used, in public spaces throughout the world.

Poul Kjærholm was born on January 8th 1929 in a small village called Øster Vrå in Northern Denmark but his family relocated several years later to the neighbouring market town of Hjørring. When he turned just 15 years of age in 1944, he undertook an apprenticeship with the local cabinetmaker, Th. Gronbech and paired this with further education at Hjørring Technical School before going on to gain a degree in furniture design from the School of Arts and Crafts in Copenhagen in 1949. So, fundamentally, Kjærholm was a craftsman and grounded with a solid appreciation of materials and how to shape them but this is clearly evident from the simply formed yet exquisitely detailed and unique body of work he went on to produce throughout his 32 year career span.

Kjaerholm at his desk

Kjærholm also appeared to be blessed with a great sense of timing because just after he began studying at the School of Arts and Crafts, his tutelage was taken over by one Hans J. Wegner, the Danish doyen of wooden furniture design. Wegner had also trained as a cabinetmaker and studied at the School of Arts and Crafts himself but by 1949 he had firmly established himself as a revered figure in Danish furniture design, especially after the release of his Round Chair or ‘The Chair’ as it came to be known, which brought him global attention for the first time. Unavoidably, Wegner became an inspiring figure to Kjærholm but it seems that Wegner also took a keen interest in the young Kjærholm by providing him with part-time employment at his design studio alongside his studies.

Hans Wegner Round Chair

Hans Wegner with his Round Chair

Kjærholm spent three years studying at the School of Arts and Crafts and his coursework included classes in drafting, lettering, perspective drawing and geometry. He excelled in all these disciplines but the study of geometry appears to have had the biggest impact on his work which is so evident in the way he related lines and angles throughout his later work.

PK25 Chair

In 1951, at the age of just 22, the final design he presented for his graduation went on to become his first major piece of work – the PK 25 Chair (as it was later named). Simply formed from a single piece of steel plate and a length of halyard line, the prototype was constructed at a local blacksmith’s in Hjørring over the summer of ’51. Even at this age, that innate craftsman within Kjærholm is glaringly apparent in his use and understanding of the material and the precision tooling required to create that precise, linear profile. He negated the need for any joints by drilling into the steel plate to provide access for a saw to make cuts in opposite directions. Once the cuts had been applied, the semi-segregated steel plate was then bent into shape in a press.

PK25 Detail

Hans Wegner Flag Halyard Chair

Hans Wegner’s Flag Halyard Chair

This unison of steel and rope materials was clearly inspired by Wegner’s Flag Halyard Chair from 1950 but there were also ideas present here that would become defining features of Kjærholm’s work and unique aesthetic. He graduated from the School of Arts and Crafts in 1952 (he, rather precociously, returned to teach at the School in 1953 at the tender age of 24) and his PK 25 Chair design instantly launched him into the consciousness of his native country as the chair was exhibited at the Danish Museum of Art and Design the same year. One visitor whose head was turned by this design was none other than Søren Hansen, Director of the Fritz Hansen furniture factory.  Hansen, after receiving a tip from Wegner, hired Kjærholm to work at his factory and the PK 25 was put into a limited production run.

To be continued…

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Summer Sale 2014

The Aram Store Summer Sale will start at 10am on Saturday 14th June and will continue to Saturday 26th July. There will be 15% discount off all new orders – *excluding online orders for products from Moooi and Foscarini.

Lounge Chair and Footstool Offer

We also have a fantastic offer on lounge chairs and matching footstools. Order any new lounge chair (with the 15% discount off RRP) and add the matching footstool at 50% discount off the RRP. ​

Exclusive Toy Van give-away

As usual, we also have substantial discounts on many ex-display items in store. These are available on a first-come-first-served basis in store only. They include:

Ex-display items at up to 40% offEx-display items at up to 40% off

Plus many more!

ARAM STORE

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Li Yuan-chia Cosmagnetic Multiple

As part of our 50th Anniversary celebrations, we have produced, in association with LYC Foundation, a piece of kinetic art – Cosmagnetic Multiples – created by the late Chinese conceptual artist Li Yuan-chia who worked with Zeev Aram in 1966.

Li Yuan-chia (1929-1994)

Increasingly recognised as one of the outstanding artists of the second half of the 20th century, Li Yuan-chia was a highly sensitive artist/poet and audacious experimenter. He produced a very special syncretic art, convincingly combining Chinese traditions of thought and European abstraction, to propose something individual and new.  He brought together the concrete, open space we associate with Malevich or Mondrian, with a symbolic use of colour. Li habitually used only four colours: black, which stood for origin and end, red for blood and life, gold for nobility and white for purity. But he was not dogmatic. In his late hand-coloured photographic prints he employed the subtlest nuances of colour.

Li’s guiding concept, artistic and philosophical, was the Cosmic Point. Emerging first out of brush-marks on folding scrolls, the Point later became a solid object, round, square or triangular, about 7cm across, with a magnetic base. It could be moved about on any metallic surface and, with typical generosity, Li opened his work to the participation of others: viewers could move the points about to make new networks, hubs and relationships. Li always wanted the spectator to be the creator.

The Cosmic Point stood for the universe, the origin and the end of all creation, and for the individual’s life journey. To begin with the solid Point objects were monochromatic, using the four symbolic colours – as in the Cosmagnetic Multiple. Later, words were added on the Points and small photographic images, fragments of life and experience, sometimes in the form of ‘points within points’.

At once an artist, curator and poet, Li Yuan-chia’s inclusive approach to art and life anticipated the attitude and practice of many of today’s contemporary artists. He wrote: “You can look at my work symbolically. You can think of it conceptually. You can play with it as a toy or game. Or you can appreciate it for its own beauty.”

© Guy Brett, Writer and Curator, Trustee LYC Foundation – March 2013

Li Yuan-chia

LYC Foundation

The artist Li Yuan-chia came to England in 1966. He came with a group of artists for an exhibition at the Signal Gallery – he decided to stay in London. Li worked at Aram Designs and during this period he produced the first of this kinetic art. Later, his work was exhibited and promoted by Lisson Gallery London, who produced the first kinetic art multiple pieces.

In the late 1960s Li Yuan-chia established his LYC Museum + Art Gallery in Banks, Brampton, Cumbria. This became an important art centre for the area, mounting a variety of exhibitions. The centre also held workshops for poetry writing, painting and hand crafts for both children and adults. In the late 1980s Li took part in a large exhibition at the Hayward Gallery, London.

Li’s work is in the collection of the Whitworth Art Gallery and the Tate. His archive is held at the John Rylands Library in Manchester. A major retrospective of Li’s work opened in March 2014 at the Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taiwan.

Aram will donate £10 from every Cosmagnetic Multiple unit sold to Li Yuan-chia’s LYC Foundation.

Cosmagnetic Multiple - Li Yuan-chia

The Cosmagnetic Multiple kinetic art comprises a white lacquered steel panel, 4 x magnetic Points – Black: Origin + End, Red: Life + Blood, Gold: Nobility, White: Purity – and a wall hanging batten with screws and rawlplugs. Priced at £395 – please contact the store to purchase.

Cosmagnetic Multiple - Li Yuan-chia

For further information on Li Yuan-chia, please visit www.lycfoundation.org and www.iniva.org chronology.

ARAM STORE

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In an occasional series of blog posts to mark our 50th Anniversary, we are highlighting some of the iconic masterpieces of 20th Century design that were first introduced to the UK market by Aram Designs.

LC4 Chaise Longue - Le Corbusier Charlotte Perriand Pierre Jeanneret

 

LC Collection

Designed by Le Corbusier, Pierre Jeanneret and Charlotte Perriand in 1928

Introduced to the UK market by Aram Designs in 1966

Le Corbusier said “chairs are architecture, sofas are bourgeois”. He began experimenting with furniture design in 1928 after inviting the architect, Charlotte Perriand, to join his studio. His cousin, Pierre Jeanneret, was already collaborating on many of his designs and after the arrival of Perriand, they began to put the expectations for furniture he outlined in his 1925 book L’Art Décoratif d’Aujourd’hui into practice. The first results of the collaboration were three chrome-plated, tubular steel chairs designed for two of his recent architectural projects – Maison La Roche and a pavilion for modern art collectors of the time, Barbara and Henry Church. This line of furniture was then expanded for Corbusier’s 1929 Salon d’Automne installation, ‘Equipment for the Home’, and included the LC1, LC2, LC3 and LC4 Chaise Longue.

LC3/2 Sofa Le Corbusier Charlotte Perriand Pierre Jeanneret

Sofa LC3/2

LC3 Chairs Le Corbusier Charlotte Perriand Pierre Jeanneret

Chairs LC3

The LC Collection is now produced under licence by Cassina in Italy, along with other designs by Le Corbusier and Charlotte Perriand. There is a wide choice of leather colours for the upholstery and several enamel frame colours, as well as classic chrome.

Myles Brown

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In an occasional series of blog posts to mark our 50th Anniversary, we are highlighting some of the iconic masterpieces of 20th Century design that were first introduced to the UK market by Aram Designs.

Toio Lamp

 

Toio Lamp

Designed by Achille and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni in 1962

Introduced to the UK market by Aram Designs in 1965

The Toio Lamp’s shape and aesthetic was born from assembling ready-made, industrial materials but then modifying their functions and giving them new applications.  The curved steel structure that rises up from the base functions as a handle and also holds the height-adjustable, hexagonal chromed steel stem equipped with fishing rod loops which channel the electrical leads up to the light source. The universal transformer is kept in plain view at the base but this also serves as a counterweight for stability.

Two curved steel rods hold the light source; a special 300 watt car headlamp which, in the 60’s, was originally imported from the United States.

Toio Lamp

Manufactured since its inception by Flos in Italy, Toio is a sculptural object of industrial robustness. The frame is available in red, black or white.

Myles Brown

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Aram 50 - since 1964

Today is the very day it all started 50 years ago back in 1964.  Zeev Aram opened his first showroom on the Kings Road, Chelsea on 9th April of that year.

Aram Designs 57 Kings Road

He took a lease on the property at number 57, a former greasy spoon café called the Cosy Dining Room (three-course lunch for 3s 6d in those days…), and transformed it into a modernist sanctuary for all those design mavens yearning to bring a little chromed steel and glass furniture into their homes.

With its stark and minimalist interior, his showroom certainly cut a swathe through all the ‘swinging’ that was going on in London at that time and quizzical passers-by who would stop and press their noses up against the window were mostly left confused by what they saw inside. Zeev Aram would, discreetly, stand outside the showroom listening to the dissenters as they drifted by but still have a wry smile on his face as, for him, it was much more important for there to be a reaction (good or bad) rather than indifference.

What these cynical voyeurs didn’t realise was that they were actually peering into the birth of a bold attempt to inject an appreciation of modern taste into the furniture buying populace. The ‘rubbish’ and ‘uncomfortable’ furniture, as they referred to it, was actually designed by Bauhaus icon, Marcel Breuer, the Italian maverick, Achille Castiglioni and, over the next couple of years, the works of Le Corbusier would be displayed in the window (the famous LC4 chaise longue took pride of place, above) and become available to the UK market for the first time, all thanks to the tenacity and uncompromising vision of Mr. Zeev Aram.

Aram Store 110 Drury Lane Covent Garden

What’s fascinating is that this same scenario still plays out today at the Aram Store here on Drury Lane whereby people will curiously leer in through the vast shop front windows and wonder what lies within…  a scenario, I imagine, that will still be playing out in another 50 years time.

MYLES BROWN

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Salone del Mobile

The Milan Furniture Fair – or ‘Salone’ for short – is the largest trade fair of its kind in the world, showcasing the latest trends and designs from over 2,500 companies across 230,000 square metres of the Fiera Milano showground. Milan itself becomes and extended exhibition space for the week as flagship showrooms and areas such as Zona Tortona host events and installations for the many global visitors.

The 'Salone' at the Fiera Milano showground

Many manufacturers present prototypes of new concepts to gauge reaction that then informs the full production version of a design later in the year. New stuff is usually seen in Milan first!

This year we will be tweeting and posting live from the fair throughout the week (8th to 13th April), so follow us on twitter and facebook to see our pick of the most interesting stuff on show.

Home is at the heart of the Salone – watch an introductory video from iSaloni.

ARAM STORE

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Hans Wegner's 100th Birthday

Wednesday 2nd April 2014 would have been Danish designer Hans J Wegner’s 100th birthday. To celebrate this centenary, manufacturer Carl Hansen & Søn are offering a very special edition of Wegner’s most well-known design – the CH24 ‘Wishbone’ chair. Order your Wishbone chair in the OILED OAK and NATURAL PAPERCORD finish and it will be specially engraved with Wegner’s signature. The engraving is done by laser on the side stretcher of the chair and includes the date 2/4/2014.

Designer Hans J Wegner

Order your oiled oak Wishbone chair now as these special ‘signed’ versions are sure to become highly sought-after collectors’ pieces.

ARAM STORE

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