The PK22 has a simple shape that has become a classic in the design world. The famous chair shows Poul Kjaerholm’s vision and his search for the best shape and size. It is still a very modern chair for people who like design.
Overview of the Design
A discrete steel frame supports the leather-covered seat of Poul Kjaerholm, Pk22 lounge chair. The chair was made of spring steel legs, crossbars, and side frames attached with machine screws and covered in canvas, leather, or cane. The seat and back were fitted with a laced canvas underlayer to provide support in both the canvas and leather versions. Folded over the chair, the canvas or leather covering was fastened with hidden buttons. In the cane version, the frame was covered in 2.5 mm rattan core strands, providing surface and structure in a single material layer.
Origin of the Chair
The 1956 release of the PK 22 lounge chair resulted in an instant commercial and critical success. A five-year process ended with PK 22, but Kjaerholm’s work also entered a new phase. He developed the steel structure in PK 25, which he had created in 1951 for this project. He used the profile of the earlier chair for PK 22, but he divided the continuous steel frame into repeating parts.
Additionally, Kjaerholm made amends for what he frankly referred to as “PK 25’s flaws, the solid crossbars across the front of the seat and the top of the back.” Kjaerholm achieved flexibility and improved comfort by removing these rigid members from the points of contact with the sitter and positioning the crossbars below the seat. PK 22 was designed as a component that was both an ideal type-form and an industrial good, similar to how the diploma project was. He made a significant innovation by introducing machine screws to furniture manufacturing. Because of their high tensile strength and use in the aircraft industry during World War I, the fasteners were perfect for steel assemblies.
Poul Kjærholm (1929 – 1980) was a Danish designer interested in construction materials, especially steel. He married Hanne Kjrholm in 1953 and began an impressive career as an educator. He worked for his friend Ejvind Kold Christiansen and created an extensive range of furniture. He received international recognition for his contributions to the ‘Formes Scandinaves’ exhibition in Paris and the legendary ‘Lunning Prize’ for his PK22 chair. He was awarded the Grand Prize at the Milan Triennale in 1957 and 1960.
His PK24 Chaise Longue, introduced in 1965, typified his mature style. He received the Danish ID Prize for product design in 1967 and became the director of the Institute for Architecture in 1976. His furniture was made in Hellerup by his friend E. Kold Christensen.
Chrome–plated steel. The chair is covered either with leather or, providing an amazing contrast of textures, with woven cane.
The structure is reduced to a minimum, with each leg unit in a single steel strip with just four bends, including forming minimal feet. The two leg pieces are linked by two square-ended but gently curved cross bars, set on edge, bolted across the top, and held in place with black Allen screws, and the seat is a simple rectangle with a gentle convex surface that runs back and down slightly to a backrest equally simple but with a gentle concave curve in the vertical plane.
The PK22 is also an excellent illustration of the design maxim that says one way to tell if a design is good or terrible is to think about whether it may be improved by adding or removing something.
25 Beautiful Homes August 2015. (2015, August). Internet Archive. Retrieved April 1, 2023, from https://archive.org/details/25_Beautiful_Homes_August_2015_UK
Living Etc November 2015. (2015, November). Internet Archive. Retrieved April 1, 2023, from https://archive.org/details/Living_Etc_November_2015
Miller. (n.d.). 20th-century design : the definitive illustrated sourcebook. Internet Archive. Retrieved April 1, 2023, from https://archive.org/details/20thcenturydesig0000mill
PK22TM chair in leather designed by Poul Kjærholm – Fritz Hansen. (n.d.). Fritz Hansen. Retrieved April 1, 2023, from https://www.fritzhansen.com/en/categories/by-series/PK22/PK22/?sku=PK22-ELWAL-SBSS
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