Kaare Klint

1888 - 1954

Kaare Klint

Kaare Klint is regarded as the founding father of Danish Modernim. As an architect, furniture designer and leading professor at the Department of Furniture Design at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, Klint established the principles of modern Danish furniture by combining a profound appreciation of traditional construction techniques with a modernist emphasis on function and a rejection of ornaments.

Klint’s design was always based on relentless research; he never compromised. Every piece had to fulfill its right purpose, be completely clear in its construction with dimensions and proportions corresponding to the human body and display materials and craftsmanship of the highest quality. Logic, often using a mathematical system of measures, and a constructive way of thinking were the foundation of Klint’s philosophy of furniture design. Like many of his contemporaries, counting Le Corbusier and Walter Gropius, he advocated standardization and functional requirements and dismissed the use of all ornamentation. But Klint realized his vision in wood and leather, using traditional craftsmen and working methods and often finding his inspiration in historical models. In this way, he charted the course for an alternative Nordic Functionalism that idealized the workshop and the collaboration between furniture architects and cabinetmakers as opposed to the factory.

Kaare Klint's first major work was a collaboration with his mentor, the architect Carl 'Calle' Petersen. In 1914 they were commissioned to design furniture and fixtures for Faaborg Art Museum. This resulted in the well-known Faaborg chair, a light and elegant piece with clear references to classical furniture. The construction and proportions of an 18th century English Chippendale chair was also clearly visible in The Red Chair, designed in 1927 for the lecture hall at The Museum of Arts and Crafts (now Design Museum Denmark), but with its straight back deprived of all unnecessary decoration and its beautiful Niger leather, the Red Chair was nowhere close to being an imitation. Other important works include The Propeller Stool (1927), The 'Mix Chair' designed in collaboration with his pupil Edvard Kindt-Larsen in 1930, the Safari Chair (1930), The Deck Chair (1939 and The Church Chair designed in 1936 for the Bethlehem Church in Copenhagen. Also noteworthy are Klint's well-proportioned cabinets and wardrobes, all made in solid Cuban mahogany.

Under Klint’s influence, several generations of talented Danish furniture designers, including Mogens Koch, Ole Wanscher, Børge Mogensen and Hans J. Wegner, renewed and extended the cabinetmaking tradition, emphasizing simple, pragmatic structures and the character of the materials.