Fabricius & Kastholm was two Danish designers, who shared a passion for optimizing shape, material and ergonomics in the 1960s, and many of their furniture designs is today considered iconic mid century pieces.
Preben Juhl Fabricius (1931-1984) was trained cabinetmaker at cabinetmaker Niels Vodder and Jørgen Kastholm (1931-2007) was trained blacksmith. Both went on to study architecture at the School of Interior Design in the mid-1950s under Finn Juhl, Fabricius graduated in 1957 and Kastholm graduated the following year. It was not until they both had gained some experience abroad that they met again in 1960, as both was employed at architect Ole Hagen.
Fabricius and Kastholm shared a common approach of perfection, aesthetics and minimization in relation to furniture design without ever compromising quality, and as Kastholm put it, when asked on the collaboration: “We had the same basic approach, we both wanted to minimize. I had been to the United States and seen furniture by Eames and Mies van der Rohe and it inspired us. The simplest lasts longest. At school we had learnt that timelessness was an ideal.”
Inspired by functionalism and the resoluteness of Scandinavian design, which had a considerable influence on the aesthetics of the sixties, Fabricius and Kastholm established their own studio in a basement in Gentofte, north of Copenhagen, Denmark in 1961. They worked closely together, taken turn to make chances to the drafts and drawings, and created very stylish minimalist designs, often with leather, glass and steel.
The first furniture was produced at furniture upholsterer Ivan Schechter, who also produced furniture for Poul Kjærholm, as Fabricius and Kastholm did not have an agreement with a manufacturer. After a Furniture Exhibition in 1965 in Fredericia, Denmark, the German manufacturer Alfred Kill made them an offer they could not refuse (Alfred Kill had given them several offers previoursly) – and the two designers moved to Stuttgart, Germany and Alfred Kill secured the rights to manufacture Fabricius & Kastholm’s designs. By 1966 Fabricius and Kastholm presented a complete furniture collection at an international Furniture Exhibition in Cologne, Germany. 10 large international furniture stores placed orders on furniture and thus started the huge success of Fabricius and Kastholm.
Among the most famous pieces is the FK 87 Grasshopper Chair (1965) and the FK bucket armchairs, which was awarded first German style prize for »Gute Form« (Good Shape) in 1969. Their exclusive furniture design can be seen at the Louvre, Paris and the MoMA, New York. In 1970 the two designers ended their professional partnership as a result of disagreements.
Kastholm moved back to Germany, after a few years in Denmark, and became professor at Bergische Universität, near Düsseldorf, Germany, where he taught furniture design and product development in the period 1975-1997. In this period, he also furnished 120 airports worldwide and opened two studios, one in Mallorca, Spain and one in Düsseldorf, Germany, where he spend his last years. Jørgen Kastholm died in 2007. Preben Fabricius died in 1984.
Since 2006, Lange Production in Denmark has had the exclusive rights to manufacture a variety of Fabricius & Kastholm’s design collection. The furniture is produced at the original factory, and with the original tools as it was in the 1960s. The entire production has been carried out in close collaboration between Lange Production and Jørgen Kastholm, to preserve and respect the authenticity and high quality of these classic designs. The German producer Walter Knoll also produce Fabricius and Kastholm furniture today.
Fabricius and Kastholm also designed lighting, like the Kastholm pendant produced by Nordisk Solar Compagni in 1964.