Ib Kofod Larsen
Born 1921, Denmark
Practised in Denmark
Studied at the Danish Royal Academy in Copenhagen
Ib Kofod-Larsen’s journey to becoming a celebrated furniture designer followed a route similar to many other Danish designers. He first trained as a cabinetmaker, and then completed his education as an architect from the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts.
Although he can certainly be considered a prominent figure in Danish Modernism alongside designers such as Kaare Klint, Hans J. Wegner, Børge Mogensen, Finn Juhl, and Nanna Ditzel, he did not receive as much recognition within Denmark as his contemporaries. It was abroad where he was truly celebrated and became a house-hold name.
Kofod-Larsen’s career was kickstarted in 1948 when he won the Holmegaard glass competition as well as an annual award from the Danish Cabinetmakers Guild. This attracted the attention of a local furniture manufacturer and he created some of his most beautiful and sought-after pieces during this time, cementing his reputation.
Inspired by Scandinavian Modernism, Kofod-Larsen’s pieces encompassed the basic principles of Danish mid-century design. He became known for distinctive designs that featured comfortable materials, simplistic lines, circular seats and pointed legs. His creations were sculptured, minimalistic and organic and he worked with rich leathers and teak and rosewood.
Perhaps three of his most famous pieces are the Elizabeth Chair, the Penguin Chair and the Seal Chair. The Elizabeth Chair is composed of a light teak frame and upholstered leather and was so named after the Queen purchased a pair on a 1958 visit to Denmark. It is now considered among the most rare and valuable to collectors of Kofod-Larsen’s work. The Penguin Chair (sometimes referred to as the Shell) is an airy and modern piece with a curved back – thousands of copies have been sold in various iterations since its 1953 design. The Salen Chair is recognized by its striking teak structure and leather-upholstery and is much sought-after on the vintage market.
Today’s collectors believe he stands out from other Danish designers of the mid-century period because of his “talent for honouring the innate qualities of his chosen materials”. He is known for working with the natural grains and patterns in the raw materials he used and making those elements the focus of his designs.
He was also considered experimental and was identified to work with developing heat-hardened polyester as part of the design of new furniture types. Like many other celebrated furniture designers, he was able to extend his talents by also designing radio and television cabinets, silver, glass, fabrics, textiles, curtains, wallpaper, and industrial designs.
Kofod-Larsen saw Scandinavian design as international phenomenon, rather than regional and it was his move overseas that won him greater recognition. The design worlds of Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States were especially impressed with his creations – he became one of the best-selling Danish architects in the United States. He also collaborated with manufacturers in Germany and Japan and exhibited throughout Europe in the 1950’s and 1960’s.
Kofod-Larsen passion for making Scandinavian Modernism an international trend saw his human-centred designs with comfort being the focus, embraced worldwide. With affordability and accessibility at its heart and clean lines and natural materials celebrated, his designs epitomize the clean aesthetics of the mid-century.
Ib Kofod-Larsen passed away in 2003 and his designs continue to grow in popularity, becoming more frequently collected. His works are both vintage collectibles and available as reproductions.
- 1950’s: Model 66 series
- 1950s: Seal Chair
- 1951: Knitting Chair
- 1953: Penguin Chair
- 1956: Elizabeth Chair
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