PK24 Lounge Chair
At first glance, the sleek, minimal shape of the PK24 lounge chair might appear to have little in common with the ornate, carved wood chaise longues of the French Rococo period, but that was indeed the inspiration for Poul Kjærholm's design. As Kjærholm (1929–80) proved, reinterpreting a design that was perhaps the furthest possible thing from the principles of modernism was a monumental demonstration of his mastery of them.
Kjærholm referred to his PK24 lounge chair as the “hammock chair.” He assigned numerals to all of his furniture to indicate their place in a specific series and type of furnishing, while his preceding initials were added after his death. There were many chairs, such as the PK22, as well as tables, couches and more, although the PK24 is arguably Kjærholm’s most recognizable chair.
After training as a carpenter and graduating from Copenhagen’s Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, Kjærholm went on to devise a series of boundary-pushing furniture pieces for his friend Ejvind Kold Christensen, who produced them under the name E. Kold Christensen in Hellerup, Denmark. The partnership was somewhat of an artist’s dream, with Christensen granting his friend near total artistic freedom. It paid off: By 1960, Kjærholm had twice been awarded the Grand Prize at the Milan Triennale.
While many of Kjærholm’s contemporaries associated with Scandinavian modernism were opting for wood as their primary medium, the designer experimented with mixed materials and favored metal for his frames. For the PK24 lounge chair, designed in 1965, Kjærholm created a sinuous seat of woven wicker that he topped with a leather bolster cushion and placed on a frame of stainless steel. By doing so, he showcased each of the chair’s parts as separate pieces, all rendered in the material that best suited them, instead of in one, compromised but unifying selection. Additionally, Kjærholm omitted any joinery or connective part between the seat and frame, which made each element literally separate. This leaves the chair’s support entirely at the whim of gravity, a choice that further underscores the precision of his design and the connection between body and chair implied by its support. The gracefully balanced seat appears to float in midair over its minimal frame.
In 1982, Fritz Hansen took over production of a number of Kjærholm’s furniture pieces, including the PK24 lounge chair. (Kjærholm worked briefly at Fritz Hansen in the 1950s before partnering with E. Kold Christensen.) The manufacturer’s version is offered in three leather options in addition to the original wicker, which is in the Museum of Modern Art's permanent collection.
Poul Kjaerholm Pk 24
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