How did your interest in Poul Kjærholm begin?
My wife and I were driving upstate and stopped into a small furniture dealer along the way.
Years ago, she had a large, round table with the wooden leaves (PK54). I saw it and thought it was beautiful. Of course, I had no knowledge of Poul Kjærholm at the time. I was just struck by the surface finish of the table and the finish underneath the tabletop. The materials were so thought through. I would say that everything about the table was ‘felt’. There was a human quality to the object.
I bought the table (a PK54) and the PK9 chairs around it. Afterwards, I did some research and Poul Kjærholm became somewhat of an obsession.
What do you consider the genius of Kjærholm’s designs?
Kjærholm designs have a tactile quality to them. When you sit on a chair or touch a table, you feel that the surface quality was well thought through and that is communicated to your body – that consideration, intention, and awareness.
Great designers and architects like Poul Kjærholm understand the human body and are generous towards it. His work is beyond function, although it is practical too. The designs are comfortable, beautiful, and accommodating, but they elevate the act of sitting.
Very basic things like sitting or eating at a table become almost sublime.
Are your guiding principles for collecting art and furniture related?
Working with artists for a living has certainly informed how I think about space, because that’s what artists do: they think about space.
A home must have an interior life. Ours has an intellectual spine that I don’t believe can really be improved upon. That’s directly correlated to Toshiko Mori, Poul Kjærholm, and the artists whose work we live with.
The pieces of art and furniture within our home are fairly fixed. We do move furniture around, but there are compass points in the art and in the furniture. They have a dialogue with one another, so to speak.
The genius of Poul Kjærholm furniture is how elegant and understated it is. It allows one to place it next to great art, and the design works subliminally on the same plane as the art. The furniture is not willfully self-conscious or attention-seeking; it is complementary. I’d go so far as to say that Poul Kjærholm is the best furniture to use next to great art and architecture, and its use in the Museum of Modern Art is evidence of that, of course.
Living with great art and design is a pleasure. We're very lucky.
‘The Furniture of Poul Kjærholm: Catalogue Raisonne’ co-published by the Sean Kelly Gallery and Gregory R Miller & Company in 2007.
ABOUT SEAN KELLY GALLERY
British-born Sean Kelly opened his eponymous gallery in 1991. The Gallery has garnered critical attention for its high caliber exhibitions and collaborations with the most significant cultural institutions around the world.
After operating privately for four years, the Gallery’s first public space opened at 43 Mercer Street in SoHo, New York. Innovative and revolutionary artists Marina Abramović, James Casebere, Callum Innes, Joseph Kosuth and Julião Sarmento were founding participants in the gallery’s original roster, all of whom still work with the gallery today.