EcoFirstArt Blog
Environmentally Friendly Fine Art, Furniture and Lighting.

Ib Kofod-Larsen’s Timeless Aesthetic


by Carol Steffan • December 6, 2018

Although he didn’t achieve as much recognition as his contemporaries inside his native Denmark, Ib Kofod-Larsen (1921-2003) was nonetheless able to achieve renown for his practical and versatile furniture designs with a graceful aesthetic, mostly by working with companies outside of his home country. Kofod-Larsen was born in 1921. Little is known of his early years, but as a young man he trained as a cabinetmaker and received high honors for his work in 1944. Afterwards, he attended the Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen for architecture, and received his degree in 1948. In that same year he won an award from the Danish Cabinetmaker’s Guild, as well as the Holmegaard Glass Competition.

Ib Kofod-Larsen

 

These triumphs lead to attention from the Danish furniture manufacturer Faarup Mobelfabrik, a firm for which he designed in the 1950s, and where he created some of his most memorable works, including the Model 66 Sideboard.

The Model 66 Sideboard   

 

His recognition at home led to success outside of Denmark, particularly in Sweden and England, where he designed for the British firm High Wycombe developing the GPlan Line, including desks, sideboards, armchairs, sofas, and room dividers, and also the Christensen & Larsen, Carlo Gahrn, Bovenkamp, Petersen’s and Frederica Furniture companies. Larsen’s talent was perceived as being able to breathe new life into designs which had become stale and dated. He became known for “honoring the innate qualities of his chosen materials” by focusing on the native grains and patterns of the woods –and also for following basic tenets of Danish design, which produced versatile and practical pieces with a graceful, minimalist aesthetic. Throughout his career, he worked with bentwood shells, construction, and seating positions. He was hired in 1953 by Dansk Glasfiber Industrie to develop heat-hardened polyester for the design of new furniture types. He frequently worked with gorgeous woods, including teak and rosewood, which were more plentiful at that time, as well as rich leathers. Clean, airy and sculptural lines became the hallmark of his work. The Penguin (or Shell) chair (1953), the Elizabeth chair (1956)– named after Queen Elizabeth II who purchased a pair in 1958– and the teak and leather upholstered Seal chair have gone on to become a few of his most famous designs, and are becoming increasingly popular items in the mid century and vintage market. In fact, the Seal chair, which epitomized the human-centered design where comfort is the main focus, was produced by the Swedish company OPE, and helped to breathe new life into the financial strain that Swedish industries were experiencing in the mid 1950s. Larson’s Shell chair was produced by Selig, one of America’s leading importers and producers of contemporary furniture, and iterations of the design were made into settees, dining chairs, and more, selling thousands of units.

Early sketch of the Penguin chair, characterized by an elegant, organic and sculptural style    

 

1960 Sideboard by Kofod-Larsen 

 

The U56 Chair, a.k.a. the “Elizabeth” combined a low seat height with a sledge back to create iconic, Danish modern design. It was also designed as a settee.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Larsen passed away in 2003. Although he focused mainly on furniture design, Kofod-larsen designed glass, textiles, silver, radio and television cabinets, wallpaper and also worked in industrial design. His designs still resonate with homeowners and collectors today, proving that good design never goes out of style.

 

 

 

 

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