Kaare Klint was the child of a famous Danish architect, P.V. Jensen Klint. Born in Fredericksberg, Denmark, in 1888, the younger Klint started out studying painting at various private art schools and the Polytechnic. In 1903, he began to learn about architecture under his father’s tutelage.
In 1914, Klint paired up with architect Carl Petersen to design the “Faborg” chair. This elegant piece was created in the Neo-Classical style, specifically for Mads Rasmussen’s Faborg Museum. The c
hair’s smooth, concave legs curve inward and upward toward a deeply rounded seat and U-shaped combination arm and back rest. Its style is reflected, albeit simplified, in Klint’s later works.
Two years later, Klint designed the dining room for Povl Baumann’s home in Copenhagen. That same year, he began a dual project with Carl Petersen that resulted in a new interior for the Dansk Kunsthandel. That design endeavor took two years to complete. Its completion marked the beginning of Klint’s career as a self-employed designer.
In 1924, Klint founded the Danish Academy of Art. He served as the furniture school’s very first director, and also taught architecture there starting in 1944.
The 1930’s were a busy and successful time for Klint. He produced several of his most popular pieces during that decade, including the “Deck” chair and the “Safari” chair. The Safari chair was an instant hit; its slouchy leather strap arm rests and cushioned seat gave it a relaxed and inviting appearance. Klint’s teak deck chair, with its wicker seat and back support, curved along gentle, ergonomic lines. It was the predecessor of the deck and pool chairs of today.
Klint was renowned for his attention to craftsmanship. He always chose comfort and functionality over opulence. In fact, some of his pieces were quite utilitarian. Klint drew his inspiration from the very simplest of Far Eastern and Chippendale styles, but was most heavily influenced by the American Shakers. Their furniture wasn’t fancy, but it was sturdy and useful. Klint became enamored with their style and used it in his own works. He managed to turn out pieces that looked neither mass-produced nor blatantly handmade. Klint’s furniture was praised for its exemplary construction, charm, and warm wood finishes.
More than a designer, Klint was also a mentor for many famous Danish furniture makers. Borge Mogensen studied under Klint from 1939 until 1950. Klint was also associated with designer Finn Juhl. His influence can be seen in their designs. Mogensen in particular agreed with Klint’s design theory and considered ergonomics and functionality to be of utmost importance in furniture and storage units.
Klint’s personal taste ran to the classic. He enjoyed taking a traditional idea and making it more simple and functional. Rather than reinventing older ideas, he thought of his designs as a sort of gentle evolution into the modern era.
Kaare Klint died in Copenhagen, Denmark, on March 28th, 1954. His influence is evident in modern Scandanavian furniture. Much of Klint’s original work can still be seen at the Faborg Museum.