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Fabricius & Kastholm

February 14, 2014

The Danish design duo Fabricius & Kastholm had a breakthrough in the 1960s with a range of furniture characterized by an uncompromising aesthetics; precision, clarity and a minimalistic methodology. Preben Fabricius (1931-1984) and Jørgen Kastholm (1931-2007) were both trained craftsmen and met during subsequent studies at the Copenhagen School of Interior Design in the mid-1950s. Kastholm had originally trained as a smith, whereas Fabricius had trained as cabinetmaker serving his apprenticeship under the legendary Niels Vodder.

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The two classmates shared a common approach, they wanted to minimize. “I had been to the United States and seen furniture by Eames and Mies van der Rohe and it inspired us. The simplest last longest.” – Kastholm later commented. In 1961, after graduating and working with prominent architects of the time, such as Arne Jacobsen, they set up an office together.

Fabricius & Kastholm were among the Danish designers of the 60s and 70s to embrace steel in the midst of a dominion of wood and thereby opening up to industrial opportunities of producing modernist furniture without compromising quality. They were clearly inspired by Poul Kjærholm’s furniture, but their line of design is not as dogmatic. In the beginning of the 1960s they designed a few exquisite pieces in wood for cabinetmaker Poul Bachmann – the present daybed (c. 1964) included – and exhibited at the Copenhagen Cabinetmakers’ Guild Exhibitions. However, steel suited their minimalistic approach, most often used in combination with leather, glass, wenge and formica.

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The Grasshopper, a lounge chair, designed in 1968, is one of their most celebrated pieces. The chair is characterized by a simple elegance, with graceful legs resembling those of its namesake, and designed with great considerations of ergonomics and comfort. As trained craftsmen the two designers worked with a strong sense of materials, highly aware of their weaknesses and possibilities. It is said that their stylish design was the result of a very close working procedure; working on each other’s drafts, drawings were sent back and forth between them until it was impossible to trace the first lines.

Collaborating with Ivan Schlechter, Bo-Ex and the German Manufacturer Alfred Kiil, Fabricius and Kastholm continued their partnership throughout the sixties – until disagreements made them go separate ways. Their works are represented at museums world wide, including Louvre in Paris and MoMA, New York.