Henry Fisker passed away

Henry FiskerHenry Fisker

Fisker with WegnerFisker with Wegner

I found this in memoriam today on the FaceBook page of PPMoebler

A legend in Danish woodworking has left us.

Cabinetmaker Henry Fisker was born February 21, 1928 in Vejen, Denmark, and in his childhood he got a close friend in the neighbor’s 5 year older boy Ejnar Pedersen. Henry was trained cabinetmaker from Schou Andersen in Vejen and then moved to Allerød, north of Copenhagen, to work with Ejnar and Ejnar’s big brother Lars Peder Pedersen. They first worked at Knud Willadsen’s workshop at Gl. Lyngevej, where Henry and the two brothers were a major driving force. But when Knud’s workshop burned down and had to close, Ejnar and Lars Peder founded PP Møbler on the corner of Toftevej and Vestvej. Shortly after the new small workshop was completed, Henry was recruited and developed a unique lifework by thoroughly and stubbornly building a craft culture with an uncompromising attitude to quality and a relentless appetite to solve all kinds of craft challenges – including those apparently impossible.

Wood was the fascination for Henry, and he meticulously analyzed the properties of each type of wood in order to obtain the optimal utilization of their qualities and adapt his machine layouts to perfect the processing of each item. Understanding wood and how it behaves when working with it was the objective, and for Henry, machinery was the tool, and he worked intensely and ambitiously to find the best technical solution to a craft challenge. His work was very tangible, but the ideas behind was always innovative and imaginative, and when he worked with the most difficult tasks, Henry often wished he could get around the laws of gravity.

Henry has made a great number of prototypes and productions of furniture designed by designers, artists and architects such as Poul Kjærholm, Finn Juhl, Gunnar Aagaard Andersen, Nanna Ditzel, Ole Gjerløv Knudsen and many others, but most of his work has been focused on development and production of furniture designed by Hans J. Wegner, with whom Henry enjoyed a lifelong friendship. Wegner and Henry had a deep mutual understanding of the craft and a common fascination of wood both as an element of nature and as a material for the craftsman.

Henry, or Fisker as he was called, worked at PP Møbler continuously for more than 50 years and in 2004 he received the Queen’s honorary medal for faithful service. Henry was stubborn and always told his opinion straight, also to the management, and he generously shared his knowledge. He has been a key driving force in building the exceptional quality for which PP Møbler has become world-renowned, and he stands as a brilliant representative of the very spirit of the workshop.

Despite his immense experience, however, he never stopped learning, and he continued to allow himself new insight; as he said: “I’ll never be done with wood. Being a skilled woodworker is a lifelong education”.

Henry Fisker died at the age of 91.

PP530 Tub Chair by Hans Wegner

Green Tub Chair by Hans Wegner
Black Tub Chair by Hans Wegner
The green PP530 Tub Chair by Hans Wegner I saw in the Design Museum Danmark in Kopenhagen.
PP Mobler about it:

Conceived in 1954 the Tub Chair was a pioneering experiment, and it turned out to be the most advanced shell chair design Wegner ever did, as the back of the chair is a complicated double bent shell comprising two individual shapes: One that is bent and one that is both bent and twisted.

Even besides the complexity of the back, the Tub Chair is a unique fusion, where Wegner merge the moulded plywood technique with upholstery and traditional work in solid wood and even adding a metal angle adjustment mechanism for the back. It is one of the most striking and brilliant examples of Wegner’s vision and courage, and still it is a most practical, usable and comfortable chair.

However, the Tub Chair was not technically possible to produce in a rational way within the lifetime of Wegner. As our techniques have developed, PP Møbler has been able to produce this great tribute and introduce this bold design in celebration of the 100 years anniversary of Wegner, one of the greatest designers of all times.

The black one I found at the auction site of Phillips where an early model was sold for UK pound 50,000 in October 2015

The Catalogue about it:

The present lot is one of two known period examples of the ‘Tub’ chair, a model which did not enter into wider production during Hans J. Wegner’s lifetime. The chair seat is composed of two pieces of fabric-covered moulded plywood. It rests on a dramatically angled oak base and is supported by a brass mechanism that allows for adjustment of the back angle. Its complexity prohibited fabrication in greater number, though it was included in the 1954 Cabinetmaker’s Guild exhibition in Copenhagen. The chair is a notable example of Wegner’s explorations into the possibilities of plywood, but ultimately the demands of employing both laminate and solid wood construction concurrently were too great and he chose to focus on the latter.

The design of the ‘Tub’ chair shares the intuitive elegance of Wegner’s other furniture, and references certain features of his most well-known chair designs specifically. While structurally more elaborate, the clamshell-form seat relates to the ‘Peacock’ chair (1947) and the forceful forward movement of the base to the ‘Folding’ chair (1949). The ‘Tub’ most closely anticipates Wegner’s ‘Shell’ chair of 1963. It is notable that even a decade after the introduction of the ‘Tub’, the ‘Shell’ form was still considered too radical for its time. It was following the ‘Shell’ chair designs that Wegner closed the chapter on his experiments with plywood. However by 1989 it was picked for the cover of the catalogue for the exhibition celebrating Wegner’s 77th birthday and has since become one of his most iconic masterpieces. The present chair is consequently a rare illustration of some of his earliest career-defining ideas.

PP201 Chair and PP58 Chair by Hans Wegner

Bingo, 3 chairs designed by Hans Wegner for for PP Mobler in a row at the Danish Design Museum, The first in the front is the PP201, the one in the middle the PP58 and in the back the PP52. The PP52 I have on a separate photo and hence I shall devote a separate post on the PP52

About the PP201/PP203:

The pp201/pp203 combines the aesthetics of the pp701 Minimal Chair with the construction of the pp66 Chinese Chair thus creating a new expression, where the strict geometrically defined frame construction supports only the most prudent use of those organic shapes so characteristic of Wegner’s work through the 1950’s.

The pp201/pp203 also marks one of the most important milestones in the lifelong close partnership between Hans J. Wegner and PP Møbler. Until 1969, PP Møbler had been more of a free space for Wegner rather than a business partner. Although PP Møbler had produced thousands of frames for the pp19 Teddy Bear Chair, Wegner’s relation to PP Møbler was primarily based on his friendship with the PP family and the craftsmen, and indeed the PP workshop provided the surroundings where he conceived the ideas for many of his prototypes and experiments through the 1960’s and to the end of his career.

In 1969, in addition to designing the pp201/pp203, Wegner also designed the PP logo and encouraged PP Møbler to initiate their own line of products as well as their own sales department. During the next 25 years, Wegner designed all PP Møbler’s sales and marketing material and he placed his best and most cherished new and previous designs at PP Møbler.

pp201’s combined arm- and backrest is made of one piece of solid steam bended wood and one piece of carved solid wood with joint details of wenge.

pp201 has a plaited seat available in either natural colour or black.
pp203 comes with an upholstered seat. (PP Mobler)

About the PP58/PP68:

What is left to do after a long glorious carrier with a long line of design masterpieces acknowledged by the whole world, and a number of significant awards already achieved?

For Hans J. Wegner the answer was obvious: in 1987, 73 years old, he designed the pp58/pp68 as his final basic chair; a genuinely comfortable, practical, strong, durable and affordable chair. Benefitting from a life’s experience with furniture design, he was determined to let this particular design be guided by all he had learnt from his previous works.

Comprising solid wood joined with tenons proved by testing each joint to withstand one ton of pulling strength, the chair is designed to be comfortable in alternate seating positions, making it a delightful experience to be seated for hours. At an affordable price, it will outlast everyday use throughout your life – and your children’s and your grandchildren’s, effectively constituting the essence of sustainability  and not just in terms of ecology, but also in terms of economics.

All in all it is a strong, final contribution from one of the world’s greatest furniture designers. The simple conclusion to an incredible life’s work.

pp58|pp68 is optimized to be practical. The short armrests makes it easy to enter and move around the chair. It fits well underneath the table, and it can also hang from the table top to make cleaning easier. The all solid wood tenon joints have been tested to withstand one ton of pulling strength.

pp58 comes with an upholstered seat.
pp68 has a plaited seat available in either natural colour or black. (PP Mobler)

PP124 Rocking Chair by Hans Wegner

PP124 Rocking Chair by Hans Wegner

PP124 Rocking Chair by Hans Wegner for PP Møbler found at the Design Museum Danmark in Copenhagen.

pp911 Slow Chair by Søren Ulrik Petersen

Slow Chair

Slow Chair designed in 2000 by Søren Ulrik Peterson for PP Møbler, who say about him:

His training as cabinet maker and his education the Danish School of Design have been decisive for this reccurrently prize-winning designer. His work is thus characterised by the confident hand of the craftsman, an eye for detail, and thorough knowledge of furniture construction principles. And, simultaneously, his design education steps into character. One senses a generous creative excess in his models. With its focus on functionality and simplicity, this excess points to his anchorage in the Danish design tradition . But also there is the more personal aspect which first and foremost signals a sense of humour and a certain degree of laid back attitude.

Søren Ulrik Petersen started working with PP Møbler in 1998. Just one year later, the result was the arm chair Suppose, which was launched at SE’s exhibition the same year. Since then, Søren Ulrik Petersen has been a regular visitor at the workshop in Allerød at least once a week.

Despite Søren Ulrik Petersens education as cabinet maker back in 1985, it was not until his collaboration with PP Møbler that he ventured working with wood in his designs. The dialogue has since then been characterised by mutual respect where each party benefits from the others professionalism.

His humility and respect for the craft means that Søren Ulrik Petersen always uses the cabinet maker’s knowledge when developing his designs. He never prsents completely finished models, but rather an idea or concept, which is then finished in cooperation with the craftsmen at the workshop. Consequently, the process is dynamic, progressive, and mutually inspiring