Kaare Klint’s “KK47000” Safari chair is a testament to his exceptional design sensibilities and ability to transform historical inspirations into contemporary masterpieces.
Inspiration from British Campaign Furniture
The roots of the Safari chair can be traced back to the chairs used by an American cinematographer and his wife during an African safari. These chairs, captured in the couple’s photographs, bore a striking resemblance to the Roorkhee Chairs—a significant example of British campaign furniture used by the military. The Roorkhee chair’s distinctive features included the tool-free assembly, glue-less joints, and intelligent construction that tightened the joints when occupied, enhancing strength and stability. These chairs are considered among the pioneers of self-assembled furniture.
Simplifying, Clarifying, and Refining
Upon noticing the chairs in the safari photographs, Kaare Klint sought to simplify, clarify, and refine their structure. In 1933, he unveiled his final Safari Chair design at the Copenhagen Cabinetmakers’ Guild Exhibition. The chair’s simple ash wood frame provided the perfect foundation for the exquisite, patinated leather components. The visible joinery and leather straps contributed to a raw aesthetic that stands out in any interior setting, especially when paired with more subdued pieces. Additionally, the chair’s carved, tapered legs added a touch of refinement to its overall appearance.
A Manifestation of Klint’s Design Philosophy
The Safari chair represents an iconic example of Kaare Klint’s design ideology. By seamlessly transforming a historical archetype into a modern, collapsible chair, Klint showcased his signature systematic approach, meticulous craftsmanship, well-conceived proportions, and remarkable material effects. While drawing inspiration from its British predecessor, Klint’s Safari chair exhibits sophistication and lightweight design, setting it apart as a distinctive creation.
Linking the Past and the Present
Arguably Kaare Klint’s most renowned design, the 1933 Safari chair can be viewed as a reimagined version of a 19th-century camping chair. By combining wood, canvas, and leather, Klint ingeniously designed a chair that can be easily disassembled for travel—a deliberate nod to its 19th-century inspiration. This meticulous attention to detail not only establishes the chair as a remarkable piece of 20th-century design but also perpetuates a classic from the previous century, bridging the gap between different eras and showcasing Klint’s dedication to timeless craftsmanship.