Last month at IMM Cologne, Carl Hansen & Son launched updates of two designer classics: Arne Jacobsen's unique writing desk, the Society Table, and a hand-woven wicker version of Poul Kjærholm's elegant PK1 dining chair.
The Society Table was commissioned in 1952 as a one-off design by the large Danish shipyard, Burmeister & Wain. The desk was part of a complete office set to be given to the American-Scandinavian Foundation in New York – an organization that promotes cultural and educational exchange between the USA and Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Iceland. The rare desk, originally manufactured in just a few copies, is now being resurrected in a slightly updated version.
The functionalist desk was one of the many iconic furniture works that helped define Arne Jacobsen as an outstanding designer. The 1950s and 1960s were the peak of Jacobsen’s career, and the Society Table is an example of the world-famous and pioneering designer’s boldness in combining new materials and experimenting with innovative shapes. Using new techniques, he created a slim, leather-covered tabletop that nestles snugly and organically around the tubular metal frame like a tablecloth. Slots at each corner expose the table’s legs – a design feature that, combined with a floating, veneered drawer unit, gives the table a light expression. The desk is made of solid wood, veneer, and steel. The tabletop is covered with fine-structured leather, the drawer unit combines wood and veneer, and the table shelf – with two compartments that fit up to A4 and M65 envelopes – is made of wood with glass sides. The table features an integrated, brushed, stainless-steel desk lamp. Jacobsen designed all of the elements, including the conical lamp that completes the modernistic look.
One of the design techniques Jacobsen used to lend the Society Table lightness and elegance was to specially connect the six-drawer unit to the table by “suspending” the unit beneath the table with four metal tubes. This creates a visual break that, together with the thin tubular frame and legs that end in elegant, solid-wood feet, accentuates the overall impression of lightness. The drawer unit is an integrated part of the structure that adds stability and makes the slim tubular frame possible.
Carl Hansen & Son is re-launching the sophisticated table in close cooperation with Jacobsen’s family, who are thrilled that the unique furniture piece will now reach a wider audience. Jacobsen’s grandson, designer Tobias Jacobsen, who manages his grandfather’s legacy with great dedication, notes: “The Society Table is an expression of my grandfather’s remarkable ability to make the complex appear very simple. The desk is also an archetypal example of his functionalist approach to the design process, so it is very significant that the Society Table is now being put into production.”
The Society Table, model number AJ52, is available in two sizes. The drawers come in solid oak, walnut or black-painted oak, and the main body of the unit is made of veneer. The feet come in solid oak, walnut or black-painted oak to match the drawer unit. The table shelf and integrated lamp in brushed, stainless-steel are available as an option. The Society Table will be in stores from May 2018.
Over the course of his career, Poul Kjærholm mastered a wide range of materials and techniques. Kjærholm’s interest in hand-woven baskets made him particularly fascinated with wicker, and his very first chair design – the 1955 PK1 dining chair – featured steel and hand-woven wicker. Carl Hansen & Son is now presenting this light and elegant wicker chair.
“The PK1 epitomizes simplicity in every detail. It is sculptural in appearance and, by virtue of its wicker back and seat, is very comfortable to sit in. The chair cradles the body, providing support where it’s needed,” explains Knud Erik Hansen, adding that the chair’s dimensions have been adjusted slightly compared to Kjærholm’s 1950s original to match today’s slightly larger and taller audiences. The adjustment has been made in accordance with and respect for Poul Kjærholm’s original design.
Kjærholm always loved experimenting with different materials. He was very enthusiastic about steel – preferably combined with organic materials – and became fascinated by wicker early on in his career. The Danish furniture designer was something of an aficionado when it came to hand-woven baskets and rugs: objects that combine structure and surface in a single material. The lightweight PK1 is a prime example of Kjærholm’s study of the potential of different materials and his ability to create harmony between form and material. Kjærholm took an artistic approach to design, and said that it was the language of the materials – not his own – that he sought to express. This ambition is reflected in the PK1, whose straightforward, clear structure allows the materials to come into their own.
In addition to wicker, The PK1 is also available in natural or black flag halyard, and in an outdoor version with a stainless steel frame combined with light brown or black weather-resistant flag halyard. The wicker version of the PK1 will be in the stores from May 2018.