Modern-day design afficionados now have the chance to acquire an exceptional piece of Danish design history as MENU puts The Penguin Chair into production.
Ib Kofod-Larsen is the epitome of Danish Modern. His furniture creations sit in the tension field between art and design. Although they have clear references to the mid-century period, they proffer a contemporary aesthetic that makes it difficult to decode whether they were designed then or now. Defined by a simplicity and straightforwardness that belies their complex craft and thoughtful details, Kofod-Larsen’s elegant designs are rare examples of Danish furniture at its finest.
Born in Denmark on 6 May 1921, Kofod-Larsen excelled as a carpenter’s apprentice, graduating top of his class in 1944 before going on to study architecture at Denmark’s prestigious Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts. As well as drawing houses, banks and schools, he also sketched furniture, glassware, silver and textiles. The prolific designer even turned his hand to designing televisions and radios. His body of work was lauded around the world and exhibited in cities from Copenhagen and Milan to New York and Chicago. After his death at 82 in 2003, his children discovered a vast archive of design sketches and prototypes.
A private man, Kofod-Larsen shunned publicity, living out his motto, “he who lives hidden, lives well,” and thus he stood in the shadows of many of his peers. Yet his legacy lives on through some of the spectacular designs he created over the course of his notable career. One such piece is The Penguin Chair.
Imagined by Ib Kofod-Larsen in 1953, the signature design was first launched in the US where it received rave reviews. Echoing the aesthetics of the great American Modernists of the period, its slightly oversize proportions – a generous seat and back, the latter with integrated, flipper-like armrests – and contrasting slender metal frame ensured the sophisticated chair was anything but ordinary. A designer for the people, Kofod-Larsen’s infused his rudimentary ethos of comfort-meets-function into the Penguin; the embracing shell, upholstered seat and slanted frame offer support as the user sits. Similarly, the versioning of the chair in three different iterations – dining, lounge and rocking – brings its simple beauty to a new generation and ensures it fits a wide range of modern spaces and needs.