CREATING FROM HISTORY
Chest in Kalmar Pine by Claus Bjerre for Dansk Møbelkunst.
Dansk Møbelkunst Gallery is proud to announce the collaboration with talented Danish furniture designer Claus Bjerre. The collaboration is part of a new initiative launched by gallery owner Ole Høstbo, who has teamed up with a select group of contemporary designers to further cultivate the values that apply to the gallery’s work within the field of 20th century Nordic design.
“The chest is a furniture type that seems largely forgotten, yet it has such a broad function. Claus’ work is both thorough and innovative, carefully designed and constructed, it is simply good design and represents an experimenting and creative continuation of the Danish cabinetmaking tradition,” Ole Høstbo says.
Claus Bjerre normally works within the field of experimental furniture design, creating unique pieces that challenge traditional notions of design and construction methods: “Most of my work is not suited for mass production, but it is still important to me that my furniture gets a life outside the workshop; that they are not only experiments – and this collaboration makes it possible. To me a piece of furniture is not finished until it is used”, Bjerre explains.
The inherent quality of the material
The chest is made in Kalmar Pine and characterized by a very harmonious exterior with vertical, displaced pieces of wood, that create a beautiful contrasting effect of light and shadow. This structure continues on the lid where it merges into a refined interlaced structure – a feature that is also present when you open the hinged lid. The chest contains two loose trays nestled above the main compartment.
Bjerre describes how the idea of making a chest came from his research on the material: “I discovered that in traditional Scandinavian furniture making this Swedish wood type was widely used for storage chests, like wedding chests for example – a very functional piece of furniture that was characterized by high-quality workmanship and often handed down through generations. I liked the idea of creating a modern version with the same functional and crafted qualities.”
The material was also an essential starting point in developing the design: “It makes sense to me to use a local Nordic wood type. Kalmar Pine has a very beautiful straight grained structure and I very much wanted to emphasize this inherent quality of the material in the design”, he says. “That is why I chose to work with these straight pieces of wood and the interlaced construction, to highlight the decorative texture of the material.”
Unconventional working methods
The construction testifies to Bjerre’s experimental approach: “I like the idea of doing something that seems impossible and thus creating a kind of magic – like this structure where the wood appears braided. The historical chests often had some kind of ornamentation on the outside, painted or carved, and I wanted to resume this practice, only using the inherent decorative feature of the wood. Still it was very important to me that the piece did not end up being fragile. I wanted it to be fully functional; a chest with a lid you can actually sit on,” he explains.
Bjerre engaged in a close collaboration with the cabinetmaker. His idea of an interlaced structure demanded unconventional construction methods: “It was very much a dialogue. I had some ideas and they had some ideas and then we just started experimenting, bringing all their knowledge of the wood and its possibilities into the project. It was an experimental process for them as well, since they had never done this before,” he says.
The result is an innovative and technically complicated construction, providing a subtle intersection of strength and refinement: “I like the magic and surprising element when you look at the interlaced structure of the lid, open it and realise that it is wood. It is an advanced construction, yet solid and highly functional”, Bjerre says.
The chest is a clear testament to the high quality of the Nordic handicraft tradition, beautifully connecting art and everyday life.
The chest is realised in 20 examples.
Danish furniture designer Claus Bjerre graduated from the School of Design at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in 2000. He works within the field of both traditional and experimental furniture design, larger productions and interior design. He teaches at the Copenhagen School of Design and Technology.