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Saturday, March 8, 2014

Hanne Kjærholm

Hanne Kjærholm (1930-2009) was a Danish architect. She spent a year at the Design School for Women, hoping to become a fashion designer in Paris. However, she soon made a different career choice and graduated from the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, School of Architecture in Copenhagen in 1956. She opened her own studio in 1958, which she ran until her death. 

In 1953, she married the furniture designer Poul Kjærholm.  For a brief time, she worked with him on a project designing picnic areas around her hometown, but for the most part, she worked alone. Her body of work is small but remarkable. The home she designed for her husband and herself in Rungsted is considered one of the major design works in Danish architecture.

In 1976 she won a competition for a pavilion in a museum complex in Holstebro. Shortly before her death, she completed the plans for a new wing to the museum, which was built in stages. Over the course of her career, she designed 20 buildings, including residences and museums, all characterized by her interpretation of the play of light and spatial qualities.

Hanne Kjærholm was instrumental in breaking down barriers for women architects. In addition to having her own studio, she had a long career as a teacher at the School of Architecture at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, where she became the first woman professor of architecture and fought for an equal number of men and women among the teaching staff.

After a 27-year marriage to her husband Poul, she had a second chance at romance and a professional partnership with cabinetmaker Ejnar Pedersen, another living legend of Danish Modernism and a close friend of her first husband. Pedersen was the founder of PP Mobler, a furniture company that worked with designers like Kjærholm and Hans Wegner. The 28-year companionship lasted until her death.

Svend M. Hvass has compiled a book celebrating the designs of Hanne Kjærholm, which I hope will make up for the dearth of images of her architectural work on the Internet.

From,, and

Hanne Kjærholm at the house she built with Poul Kjaerholm

Svend M. Hvass book

Renee vanity chest, designed by Hanne Kjærholm and crafted by Ejnar Pedersen

Renee vanity box, designed to be used vertically or horizontally

Close-up of Renee interior

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