A trained cabinetmaker who completed his studies at the Danish School of Arts and Crafts, Poul Kjærholm had a particular interest in construction materials; especially steel, which he considered a material deserving the artistic respect that was commonly awarded to wood. Poul Kjærholm initiated a collaboration with furniture manufacturer Ejvind Kold Christensen in 1955, and that collaboration continued for the rest of Kjærholm’s life with the two families remaining close to this very day.
Two years after the designer’s passing, the Kjærholm trustees entrusted Fritz Hansen with the production and sales of ‘The Kjærholm Collection’– designs developed by Poul Kjærholm from 1951 to 1980.
Fritz Hansen is honoured to continue production to this day and to distribute Poul Kjærholm’s furniture to architects and private customers around the world.
Though Poul Kjærholm was a trained cabinetmaker, he began exploring materials beyond wood when he attended The School of Arts and Crafts in Copenhagen. At the time, Danish furniture designers usually opted for wood as their primary material. Yet Kjærholm found that he preferred steel, which he combined with a wide range of materials such as leather, wicker, marble, and (of course) wood.
In 1951, at only 22 years, Poul Kjærholm designed the PK25™ chair (also known as the Element chair) for his graduation project. The work caught the eye of Søren Hansen, grandson of Fritz Hansen and co-director of the company. Hansen saw enormous potential in the young designer and invited him to join Fritz Hansen.
Around the time of Kjærholm’s hiring, in 1952, Fritz Hansen’s attention was largely focused on the new Ant™ chair by Arne Jacobsen. As the story goes, a year after Kjærholm was hired, impatient that his designs are not yet put into production, he stormed into Søren Hansen’s office and suggested, ‘Either you stop working with the Jacobsen chair or I am leaving!’, to which Søren calmly replied, ‘Well, then goodbye Mr. Kjærholm”.
Despite the tension at the time, Fritz Hansen continued to deeply admire Poul Kjærholm’s work. With the family’s blessing, the company was able to acquire his collection, including that first graduation project - the PK25 - after the designer’s death. The collection was returning home.
Iconic Danish designer Poul Kjærholm had a rare aesthetic vision. Often referred to as a "furniture architect", his works are timeless, meticulously dedicated to detail and crafted in the best materials.
Every Kjærholm piece expresses his rare sense of aesthetics, proportions and shapes. His furniture fits the interiors, defines spaces and creates a sublime atmosphere uniquely linked to Kjærholm's holistic design typology and thinking: clear, simple and elegant.
Kjærholm had a profound understanding of material, form and function. Each of his designs consists of two primary materials, combining steel with traditional materials such as wicker, wood, canvas, leather, marble and glass. The flat structure of the steel in his pieces adds a sublime calmness when paired with the Nordic light, something Kjærholm understood deeply.
Inside Poul Kjærholm’s home, designed by his wife Hanne Kjærholm. Photo: Keld Helmer-Petersen (Estate of Keld Helmer-Petersen.