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Preben Fabricius and Jorgen Kastholm - Danish Furniture Design

Preben Fabricius and Jorgen Kastholm were both Danish furniture designers. The two had a business partnership and together they produced many beautiful pieces of furniture which helped shape the world of Danish furniture design.

In 1962 Fabricius and Kastholm opened up their own office in a dingy basement in the town of Holte. The wanted their business to be a true partnership and they were equal partners in the business. The two had first met when they worked for Ole Hagen, where they became close friends. They specialized in designing family homes, and designing furniture to go with the homes. Even though they had different views on how a piece of furniture should appear, they always found a way to combine their ideas into unique results. They had a very interesting way of working together which illustrates what a true partnership they had.  Both drew sketches, and the sketches would change hands. Then through a process of collaboration and compromise they would finally reach a point where they were both satisfied with the design and a work would be considered finished. Who had the most influence on the specific design did not seem to matter to them. Working in this manner they produced furniture that was not only elegant and refined, but designed with attention to detail, quality, and functionality. There is no question that during this period there collaborated efforts overshadowed their individual efforts.

The two men both found inspiration by old Scandinavian furniture designs. They were both driven by a desire to institute functionalism into their designs. This approach to design had a large impact on the way most Danes decorated during the 1960’s. Many of the principles they followed in their furniture design are still followed by Scandinavian designers today.

Shortly after they started their partnership, a German furniture manufacturer, Alfred Kill (owner of Kill International) contacted them. He wanted to produce their furniture, but they rejected him. Fabricius and Kastholm wanted to be in total control of the production of their designs, and neither one of them was very keen about the concept of mass-produced furniture. They felt that something was taken away from a piece of furniture which was manufactured by a machine. Yet Alfred Kill was persistent, and he approached the partners several times without success. Finally when Kill offered Fabricius and Kastholm 7000 Danish Kr. per month, and a completely free hand to produce furniture for other manufactures, they could no longer say ‘no’.

Alfred Kill’s company ‘Kill International’ was already known to produce high-end, expensive furniture, and he only 2 true international competitors.  Walter Knoll from Germany and Herman Miller from the USA. Fabricius and Kastholm were Kill’s star designers and they found themselves in a unique and very lucrative situation. 

Arne Jacobsen, Hans Jørgen Wegner and Finn Juhl, were the best known Danish architects and designers of the day, and it was Fabricius and Kastholm’s dream to achieve that kind of status and recognition. Fabricius and Kastholm made no secret that they revered the big three Danish architects and designers. However, slowly but surely the elite architects and designers began to accepted Fabricius and Kastholm as equals; partly because of the awards the partners received for their work.

Some of their most famous pieces include: ‘FK87 Grasshopper Chair’ (Græshoppen Stol) (1968), ‘The X Chair’ (FK 82-X-Stolen) (1968), The Chair (1963), FK Lounge Chair (FK Lænestol) (1969), Skater Chair (FK710) (1968), Scimitar Chair (Scimitar Stol) (1962), the Bo562 Couch and matching chair and the Sculpture Chair (1964). The FK Lounge Chair symbolises classical design, and is as timeless as it is modern. The chair won the very first German prize for "Good Shape" ("Gute Form") in 1969. The ‘Scimitar Chair’ which was designed in 1962 is a beautiful chair and it epitomises their work. The chair shows has a beautiful form yet it is still simple and functional. Unfortunately ‘The Scimitar Chair’ has not been in production since 1984, however Gert Auhagen (owner of Bo-ex Furniture Aps in Denmark), is planning to bring it back into production sometime in the near future. In addition to the ‘Scimitar Chair’, Fabricius and Kastholm also produced the ‘Scimitar Table’, which goes beautifully with the chair.

Their exclusive pieces of furniture are today manufactured by BoEx, and these furniture pieces are all over the world. Fabricius and Kastholm have furniture pieces in over 120 different airports, pieces in the Louvre, Paris and many pieces in the Museum of Modern Art, New York.
In 1969, Preben Fabricius received the Illum Prize for his work as an architect and furniture designer.

Unfortunately in 1970 Preben Fabricius and Jørgen Kastholm ended their partnership due to personal differences. Fabricius became a teacher at The School of Interior Design in Copenhagen. He continued to make some sketches at home, and some of them would end up being produced by BO-EX, but none of them really became famous. Jorgen Kastholm died in 1984 at the young age of 52.

Kastholm moved to Düsseldorf in Germany, where he opened his own design studio. I 1976, Jørgen Kastholm was nominated professor of furniture design and product-development, at the Bergesche Universitat in Wuppertal. Kastholm continued designing furniture right up until his death in 2007. Several of these pieces are still in production today. However, his designs would never receive the same adulation that his collaborated efforts with Fabricius.  

 As partners Preben Fabricius and Jørgen Kastholm would influence an entire generation of architects and furniture designers. Their works have encouraged the next generation to be creative and unafraid to work in unusual shapes and materials.

LastUpdate: 2015-04-18 17:40:39