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Kay Fisker - Danish Architect, Designer, Writer (1893-1965)

Kay Fisker (1893-1965) was a Danish architect, designer and architectural writer who was born in Copenhagen (København) in 1893. While Kay Fisker will be most remembered for his architectural achievements, throughout his career his created many popular furniture designs. He also created many beautiful silver jugs, trays, utensils etc. His best known silver design is his silver wine carafe (Vinkande) which was released in 1926, and it is still in production today.    

Fisker graduated from High school in 1909, and went on to study at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts (Det Kongelige Danske Kunstakademi) in Copenhagen. He graduated from the Royal Academy as an architect in 1920. While he was still a student at the Academy, he worked in several different architect offices in Stockholm, Sweden. His first employment was with Anton Rosen’s studio from 1912-1916. He then went on to work for Sigurd Lewerentz and Gunnar Asplund from 1916-1918, and finally he started working in Copenhagen for Hack Kampmann from 1918-1920.

In 1922 Kay Fisker and Poul Henningsen designed the enormous “Hornbæk House” in Nørrebro, Copenhagen. The housing complex was revolutionary for its time, and it was the first of its kind in Copenhagen. Rather than using the entire piece of land for construction purposes, they landscaped a huge garden around the building.

Throughout his career Kay Fisker received many awards for his various architectural achievements. He was awarded the Eckersberg Medal in 1926. In 1947 he was awarded the C.F. Hansen Medal in recognition for his work on various buildings at Aarhus University. He also won a gold medal at the International Architecture Exhibition in Ghent in 1921, and a gold medal at the World Exhibition in Paris in 1925. He also won the Prince Eugen medal in 1958. He was awarded the Architectural Association's Academic Honour Medal in 1963, and finally the Heinrich Tessenow medal in 1964.

Many of Kay Fisker’s best known architectural works were designed in collaboration with the famous Danish architect C.F. Moller.

Kay Fisker was always very active in many facets of the architectural world. From early in his career he took on many teaching rolls, and his teaching would go on to influence some of the greatest Danish architects and designers of the 20th century. Immediately after he graduated he received his first teaching assignment where he was employed as a teaching assistant at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, (1920-1924). In 1924 he rose to the position of Assistant Professor of Architecture at the Royal Academy.

In 1923 Kaare Klint helped to establish a furniture school at the Royal Academy. The year after the Royal Academy opened a residential architectural division in the school, of which Kay Fisker became the head of. So in 1924 Fisker was finally a full professor at the Academy. Fisker would be a professor at the Academy from 1924-1936. He would ultimately become the Dean of the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts from 1940-43, and during the same period of time he was chairman of the board.

Fisker’s reputation of being an excellent Professor of Architecture spread outside of Denmark, and he received many honorary professorships and memberships at some of the finest Architectural schools and committees in the world. Such as ‘The Royal Institute of British Architects’ (1948), ‘The Royal Society of Arts” in London (1948), ‘The Architectural League’ New York (1952), ‘The American Institute of Architects’ (1955), Professor at the ‘Massachusetts Institute of Technology’ Boston (1951-1952), and finally the ‘Graduate School of Design at Harvard University’ (1952-1953).
He was editor of the magazine “The Architect” (Arkitekten) published by the Academic Architect Association from 1918-1926. Fisker love of architecture would have him go on and write many books about architecture.

Fisker was decorated as ‘Commander of the Order of Dannebrog (Dannebrogordenen) which is one of the highest achievements a Danish citizen can achieve. It is the equivalent of receiving the title ‘Sir’ in the UK.

Kay Otto Fisker passed away in 1965, and he was buried in Søllerød Cemetery just outside of Copenhagen.