PK52 Professor Desk
for Carl Hansen & Søn
The PK52 Professor Desk was designed in 1955 by Poul Kjærholm for Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts. The Academy needed a number of desks for its lecturers and students, and Kjærholm, who had just joined the faculty as a lecturer, designed a PK52 Professor Desk along with the PK52A Student Desk. During the design process, Kjærholm drew on his experience as both a cabinetmaker and a furniture designer, rediscovering the synthesis between craftsmanship and industrial design along the way. The desks, which are distinguished by a clean, light expression, helped establish Kjærholm as a one-of-a-kind furniture designer with an intuitive feel for the inherent potential of his chosen materials.
The professor and Student Desks’ light and simple design complements both modern and classic décors and showcases the exquisite interplay between materials that became Poul Kjærholm’s signature. Kjærholm elegantly combined a coated steel frame with a veneer countertop and refined some of the design concepts that came to define his furniture – particularly the trademark floating tabletop. The series also reflects the designer’s well-known attention to detail and demand for artisanal finishes. With their precise expression and execution, the desks embody the craftsmanship virtues that define Carl Hansen and Søn. Both designs can serve as desks, dining room tables, or beautiful worktables for drafting rooms or offices. The pieces are also equally at home in hotel rooms and other environments marked by simple, modern aesthetics.
The work of Poul Kjærholm was at once deeply rooted in the Danish furniture tradition and inspired by artistic movements all over Europe. The German Bauhaus School, furniture designers Gerrit Rietveld, Mies van der Rohe, and Charles Eames, as well as Danish furniture designer Kaare Klint and his contemporaries, all contributed to shaping Kjærholm as a furniture designer.
Kjærholm made a name for himself primarily with his functionalist steel, leather, and glass furniture, although he originally trained as a cabinetmaker in hjørring, Denmark in 1949. he then went on to study furniture design at the Danish School of Arts and Crafts (now the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, School of Design) in Copenhagen, graduating in 1952 and returning again to teach shortly after. In 1955, he became a lecturer at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts and was appointed a professor in 1976, succeeding Ole Wanscher. Kjærholm remained at the Academy until his death in 1980.
Throughout his work – as both an educator and a furniture designer – Kjærholm made function and clarity his hallmarks. Whatever material he worked with, Kjærholm, in his own quiet way, allowed the furniture to speak its own simple language. An idealist in his field, he refrained from easy solutions and never allowed himself to be guided by changing fads.
Driven by the dual desire to realize each material’s inherent nature and to create harmony between material and form, Kjærholm often felt that there was only one solution to a given problem. He was a demanding teacher guided by perfectionism and discipline, his idealistic approach to design also manifesting itself among his students.