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Kaare Klint


Kaare Klint (1888-1954) was a precursor to and teacher of the designers who made Danish modern style explode onto the international mid-century scene. In 1924 he helped to establish the influential Department of Furniture at the Royal Academy of Art in Copenhagen where he was also a lecturer and Professor of Architecture. Unlike the modernists, however, Klint worked with an unerring faith in the historical evolution of furniture forms and a commitment to the neo-classical designs. A substantial goal in his work was to take these pieces and try to rethink them and update them with the modern requirements. Although Klint counted among his devoted protégés Poul Kjaerholm and Børge Mogensen, many of his philosophies about design provided the backdrop against which the next generation of designers reacted.

Klint spent a great deal of his career conducting detailed studies on the relationship between furniture design and human proportions. Interested in redefining and fine-tuning the chair as, at the base level, the optimal tool for sitting, he conducted extensive research as to how this could be achieved. This theoretical approach is called anthropometrics and proved to be vital to later furniture and industrial designers. Also part of the study, Klint designed storage units customized to fit the objects they would contain, and established some of the standardized measurements for drawers and shelves. The dedication to scientific theory, however, never eclipsed his ever expanding desire to make a better chair and he spoke of the ideal interplay between theory and artistry in a 1930 interview: “a designer can learn to construct an item of furniture, section by section, on the basis of these dry facts, but at the same time give it the changing artistic form that suits him and his time.”

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