Piet Hein

Piet Hein

Born: 1905 - Died: 1996

Piet Hein was a Danish writer, designer and inventor. Piet Hein began studying philosophy at the University of Copenhagen in 1924, but he left the university in order to attend a private art schools in the capital, and spent some time as a student at the Royal Swedish Academy of Fine Arts in Stockholm as well. Here he studied at Albert Engström and Wilhelm Schmidt.

Piet Hein went back to Denmark, and changed course again, by studying philosophy and theoretical physics at the University of Copenhagen, at the Technological University and at Niels Bohr Institute, where he was very inspired by Jørgen Jørgensen and Niels Bohr. Throughout life, he developed and expressed himself, both as artist and scientist.

Piet Hein’s world, is almost the epitome of design. His recognisable style of language and material, turns design into art. The word harmony would probably describe his almost 60 years of poetic and architectural production. In 1944, Piet Hein explained his working method in this way: “Art is the solution to problems, which cannot be formulated clearly, before they have been solved”. Other people have described his work as architectural poetic design.

In the 1930s, the Danes could read some short poems by Piet Hein in the daily newspaper Politiken. They were printed under the headline “From day to day”, and both the newspaper and the author saw them as poetic comments on small and great occurrence in the everyday life. In 1940, Piet Hein’s special grooks were created, the poet’s alias being Kumbel Kumbell.  The grooks, put a new perspective on everyday observations, which help the reader with small instructions in the finest of all the arts: the art of living. Thus everybody recognizes themselves in Kumbel’s universe.

Parallel to his poetic work, Piet Hein decided to find an absolutely harmonic physical design. By means of mathematics, he found the form Superellipse. It was to solve the double contrast between the circle and the square and that of the ellipse and the rectangle. He found a harmonic geometrical figure, which was first used on a large scale, in connection with the solution to a town planning problem in Stockholm.

In a smaller scale, the Superellipse, resolved in 1969, the issue of who should sit at the end of the table, during the Vietnam Conference in Paris.

Piet Hein is among the Danes, which has received the most awards in the twentieth century.


More information: www.piethein.dk

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Ra by Piet Hein for LYFA 1931
RA-24 by Piet Hein for LYFA 1969