For Poul Kjærholm, simplicity was essential. He insisted on materials of the highest quality and designed for transparency. Indeed, nothing in Kjærholm’s designs is unnecessary or cosmetic.
‘The important thing is to express the personality of the material – not mine,’ he said. ‘Steel's constructive potential is not the only thing that interests me; the refraction of light on its surface is an important part of my artistic work. I consider steel a material with the same artistic merit as wood and leather.'
Poul Kjærholm studied at the design school in Copenhagen under Hans Wegner, the master cabinet maker and designer in wood. It’s interesting that Poul Kjærholm chose steel rather than wood in his early productions, treating flat steel with the same delicacy that a wood cabinetmaker approaches his material.
Some consider Kjærholm’s work ‘industrial’ in appearance. Appropriately, perhaps, Kjærholm called himself a ‘furniture architect.
The simple dimensions of his designs require complicated welding. All the grinding must meet perfectly, and the level of detailing is extremely high.
Today, Kjærholm pieces like the PK20 and PK22 are made by hand in Denmark, using a mixture of machine and handiwork.
The integrity and resilience of spring steel ensures that designs are long lasting and strong. The continuous and rather complex design of the PK25™ frame would be impossible without it. This kind of extraordinary design is inherently linked to material – in this case, steel and Poul Kærholm’s desire for the purest expression of his choice material.