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Preben Fabricius & Jørgen Kastholm

The design duo specialised in furniture design and single-family houses, and their designs were characterised by minimalism, sophistication, functionality, quality and their eye for detail.

Preben Fabricius (1931–1984)

Preben Fabricius trained as a cabinetmaker in 1952 with Niels Vodder, one of the most prominent cabinetmakers of the time, and he continued to work for Niels Vodder for a couple of years before deciding to continue his studies at the School of Interior Design (now the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts Schools of Architecture, Design and Conservation). Here, Preben Fabricius studied under Finn Juhl, and it was also here that he first met Jørgen Kastholm. In 1957, Preben Fabricius was employed at Ole Hagen’s design studio, where he again met Jørgen Kastholm, and the two quickly realised that they shared an interest in elegant and refined design with a focus on functionality and minimalism. In 1961, Fabricius and Kastholm established their own design studio.

Together, they designed furniture in wood, and later also in steel and leather, taking advantage of Jørgen Kastholm’s experience and background as a smith. They drew their inspiration from luminaries of Danish design such as Hans J. Wegner and Arne Jacobsen, but also international names such as Charles and Ray Eames and Mies van der Rohe. 

During the design process, drawings were passed back and forth across the table between Fabricius and Kastholm until it was no longer possible to say who had drawn what, but the result was a joint effort.

The design duo specialised in furniture design and single-family houses, and their designs were characterised by minimalism, sophistication, functionality, quality and their eye for detail.

After working with various Danish furniture manufacturers, Fabricius and Kastholm started collaborating with German furniture manufacturer Alfred Kill. In the end of 1968 they parted ways, and Preben Fabricius started his own design studio, designing furniture for, among others, the German furniture manufacturer Walter Knoll. In 1978, Preben Fabricius became a teacher at the School of Interior Design, where he had studied himself, and here he remained until his death in 1984.

Preben Fabricius won several awards, both together with Jørgen Kastholm and in his own name, including the first German Gute Form (Good Design) prize in 1969 and the Illum Prize in the same year. Preben Fabricius and Jørgen Kastholm’s designs can be found in museums and design centres around the world, including at MoMA in New York and at the Louvre Museum in Paris.

Jørgen Kastholm (1931–2007)

Jørgen Kastholm was born in 1931 and, as a young man, travelled to the USA to study at high school. This came to mark the start of a long life visiting and living in different parts of the world, and which created a world view that was unusual at the time. At the age of 19, Jørgen Kastholm returned to Denmark to train as a smith in his father’s company, and in 1955 he started his studies at the School of Interior Design (now the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts Schools of Architecture, Design and Conservation) where he met Preben Fabricius for the first time. He graduated in 1958 with distinction.

Jørgen Kastholm then continued his studies at Den Grafiske Højskole (now the Danish School of Media and Journalism), while also working for Arne Jacobsen, who would become a major source of inspiration for Jørgen Kastholm in his work as a furniture designer. In 1959, Jørgen Kastholm moved to Beirut, Lebanon, to work in a design studio, where he was involved in designing SAS lounges and palaces for the Saudi king, after which he returned to Denmark and got a job at Ole Hagen’s design studio. Here, Jørgen Kastholm once again met Preben Fabricius, and the two quickly found out that they wanted to form a partnership.

In 1961, Jørgen Kastholm and Preben Fabricius founded a design studio in their own name. In the early years of their partnership, the duo worked on furniture designs in wood, but later steel became their focus area as a result of Jørgen Kastholm’s metalworking background, but also their shared fascination with renowned international designers such as Charles and Ray Eames and Mies van der Rohe.

During their seven-year partnership, Preben Fabricius and Jørgen Kastholm designed a large collection of minimalist and functionalist designs in wood, steel, leather and glass which achieved widespread recognition and established their names internationally.

In 1968, the design duo went their separate ways, and Jørgen Kastholm opened a design studio in his own name, where he continued to design furniture for large furniture manufacturers. At the same time, he also worked as an editor and writer. In 1971, Jørgen Kastholm moved to Düsseldorf in Germany and opened his own design studio, and where he designed furniture for large international furniture manufacturers until his death in 2007. In addition, from 1975 to 1996, Jørgen Kastholm was a professor at the University of Wuppertal (BUW) within the field of furniture design and product development.

Jørgen Kastholm’s designs include furniture, vases and lamps as well as curtain rods, wall tiles and car seats. In his own name and together with his colleague Preben Fabricius, Jørgen Kastholm won several international awards, including the first German Gute Form (Good Design) prize in 1969, the Illum Prize the same year, and the Red Dot Award in 1995. Preben Fabricius and Jørgen Kastholm’s designs can be found in museums and design centres around the world, including at MoMA in New York and at the Louvre Museum in Paris.

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