Thursday, 25 November 2010

Day 330, on which John mentions someone other than Jacobsen [25.11.10]

Dag tre hundrede og tredive. Did some more lino printing today, and didn't manage to cut myself again which really helped. In fact, I managed to cut out the entire Helvetica lowercase 'a' into lino and started printing it in different formations and combinations and compositions to make it look real nice. It came out quite well, actually - though now I'm desperate to get the 'a' over and done with and get started on some proper text to print. I'm going to print them in white over a photo to produce a really great rough effect artwork. Should be pretty cool when it's finished.

OK, I have more design to discuss with you. After much perusing of the Fritz Hansen website, I have seen a buttload more photos of Jacobsen stuff but one particular piece from another Danish designer called Poul Kjærholm (Porl Kyeah-holm) has caught my eye. Bascially, Kjærholm was a contemporary of Jacobsen and made a lot of chairs and tables using the simple materials of metal and wood. Much like Jacobsen. He's just like Jacobsen but with a slightly different style - more traditional and 'soft', I seem to find. Lots of thick woven fabrics and wicker stuff too. Very countryside-y. Jacobsen's work was much more strict and urban. There's much more control and flatness in Jacobsen's stuff, though remember 'flatness' is not always a bad thing. I myself much prefer seemingly 'flat' textures to a rough mixture of deep textures.

© Fritz Hansen
But nonetheless, I like Kjærholm's work and here you can see one of Fritz Hansen's photos showcasing a lot of his stuff. The leg design you see on the chair on the left is a massive trademark of Kjærholm's work, it's like Mies van der Rohe's Barcelona chair but a bit more modern and much more Danish. The Barcelona chair had a lot of luxury and traditional influence (that was the brief), but this chair (accurately named PK22) is much more modernist with a very wide, constrained look to it. Another aspect of Kjærholm's designs is his tables, and the fact that they have legs pointing out from different angles on the ends of each edge:

PK61a, © Fritz Hansen

In the above picture you can see what I'm talking about. It's surely an interesting leg technique and the angles of it allow a very stable support system underneath the tabletop, but I don't like how it looks. It's too unnatural for me. They all look out of place, unruly. I'd much rather have some order in the table. Plus it looks unstable, and as much as people like using looks-unstable-but-actually-isn't furniture, in this case I'd be very wary of it. Pop something heavy on the corners and it may topple. Plus, a granite tabletop? On a low, coffee table? Yuck, no. Way too much texture and weight. Very heavy looking, and literally heavy too. Let's keep it to wood and metal, Poul.

© Fritz Hansen
And thus we finally move onto the focus of this post, the PK80. The PK80, which you can see on the left of this photo here in red, is something totally different. It really merges several categories of furniture without fully replacing the need for any of them. It's a footstool, because it's at that height, it's a table, because it has a large, flat top, it's a bed, because it's human-sized and is soft, and it's also a seat for waiting rooms or airports because it allows people to seat themselves anywhere around it and is just about comfortable enough for a short sit down on it, nothing relax-there-forever comfortable like the Egg. It's quite an old concept; Kjærholm simply reinvented it in the best way anyone could have. Modernist, Danish, and with a hint of steel. So simple, yet so useful. In the first photo of this post you can see the PK80 being sued as a table. It's not that stable since it's squishy and soft, but it works. Works very well. It's just an all-round great concept. And so what if Kjærholm wasn't the first to do it, he did it bloody well when he did.

~John

ps. Jacobsen is still better than Kjærholm. Arne holds a special place in my heart.

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