Jørgen Kastholm

Denmark & Germany

Born in Roskilde, Denmark, Jørgen Kastholm (1931-2007) was a prolific architect and industrial designer from the Scandinavian modern era, who is best known for his classic midcentury designs in collaboration with business partner Preben Fabricius.

It is speculated that sometime in the early 1950s, Kastholm spent time studying design in the US, where he became inspired by design luminaries Charles Eames (1907-1978) and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (1886-1969). In 1953, he apprenticed as a blacksmith before continuing his education at the School for Interior Design in Copenhagen under architect-designer Finn Juhl (1912-1989).

In 1961, Kastholm founded a design studio in eastern Denmark with partner Preben Fabricius (1931-1984), who he met during his studies. They were primarily concerned with pairing functional design with a minimalist aesthetic, and advocated for simplicity and timelessness. They began working for German manufacturer Alfred Kill of Kill International, whom they had met after they had exhibited their work at the Fredericia furniture fair in the early 1960s. Their lounge chairs and sofas were made almost exclusively from leather and steel, in contrast to many contemporary designers who preferred to work with wood.

Even though the partnership between Kastholm and Fabricius lasted a total of just seven years, the designs they created during the relatively short period became representative of the midcentury modern design movement. Important designs from the pair include the Scimitar Chair (1962); Bo-562 Sofa and Bo-562 Chair (1963); Scimitar Table (1964); the X Chair (1968)—which bears a striking resemblance to Mies van der Rohe’s Barcelona Chair (1947); the FK 710 Skater Chair (1968). Both the FK 6725 "Tulip" Chair (1965), which was the first winner of the Germany’s Gute Form prize in 1969 and the Grasshopper Chaise Lounge (1968) have become icons of mid-century design and the duo’s most instantly recognizable creations.

Kastholm also collaborated with the likes of Fritz Hansen, Arne Jacobsen, and Ole Hagen, as well as manufacturers Bo-Ex, Knoll and Ivan Schlechter. He has designed a number of pieces for airport lounges, which can be found in more than 120 different airports world-wide. His designs have been featured in various Hollywood movies, and are housed in the permanent collections of museums around the world including the Louvre in Paris and the Museums of Modern Art in New York and Barcelona.

Kastholm continued to teach furniture design and product development at the University of Wuppertal in Germany and stayed active in design until his death in 2007.