MEET THE DESIGNER
Architect Ib Kofod-Larsen (1921-2003) had a successful career in the 1950s and 1960s when Danish design was flourishing across the world.
A large part of his vast furniture catalogue was designed for the non-Danish market and manufactured abroad. He worked especially for American, Swedish, British and German furniture companies and manufacturers, and this may be the reason that his furniture has undeservedly become better known internationally than in his home country of Denmark.
Ib Kofod-Larsen formed part of a movement known as Danish Modern, but he went slightly under the radar and worked in the shadow of Kaare Klint, Hans J. Wegner, Børge Mogensen, Arne Jacobsen, Finn Juhl and Nanna Ditzel. Today he is called one of the most underrated – but most exciting – names on the Danish design scene. And one of the greatest design brains Denmark ever had.
Although he himself felt like an artisan – and he had no academic approach to furniture design – there is something poetic and artistic about his designs. The soft lines. The visual lightness. The graphic purity. The free, artistic expression. He was a purist. A man of detail. At first glance, his furniture may seem simple, but at closer inspection it is full of detail. It is inventive and borders on engineering.
He drew, sculpted, made prototypes, was involved in production and participated in the entire process down to every test and launch. He was a creative designer, maybe one of the greatest designers in the golden age of Danish design. He took an innovative approach. Not just to furniture, but to ways of thinking about furniture.
First and foremost, he had an exceptional understanding of materials and an eye for the potential of the wood and the quality of the raw materials he used. He often worked in different types of wood – mainly teak and palisander in combination with real leather. To Kofod-Larsen, the most important thing was that the furniture should feel good. To the touch and when sitting in it. With all his chairs, The Penguin, The Seal and the Elizabeth Lounge Chair, his focus was on the person who was going to be sitting in them.
A Tribute to Danish Architect, Ib Kofod-Larsen
Today, Ib Kofod-Larsen is called one of the most underrated - but most exciting - names on the Danish design scene. He had a successful career in the 1950s and 60s - when Danish design was flourishing across the world. To learn more about Ib Kofod-Larsen and the approach for his work, we encourage you to watch the full movie.
His big breakthrough came in 1956 when he designed the Elizabeth Chair. Originally, the chair was named Module U56, but when Queen Elizabeth II acquired two of the chairs during an official visit to Denmark in 1958, it was subsequently renamed the Elizabeth Chair. He had already achieved great success in the American market with the Penguin Chair years earlier.
Throughout his career as a furniture designer, Ib Kofod-Larsen worked with seating, construction, upholstery and moulded wooden shells. His experimental approach resulted in some of the most important designs of the mid-century modern period, first meticulously sketched by hand before being painstakingly produced in natural materials. Involved in the entire process, Kofod-Larsen designed, constructed prototypes and followed the production, the final tests and each individual product launch.
Ib Kofod-Larsen is the epitome of Danish furniture. He sits in the tension field between art and design. Although his furniture has clear references to and takes many of its attributes from the mid-century period, it has a contemporary look that makes it difficult to decode whether his pieces were designed then or now. He made the simple and straightforward into something unusually elegant and that makes him extremely interesting.