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The Klint Chair: An interview with professor Harlang

Christoffer Harlang is a renowned Danish architect and respected professor specialising in cultural heritage, transformation, and restoration at the Royal Danish Academy. With a profound understanding of Danish design and architecture, Harlang has made a significant impact since completing his architectural education. He has contributed to distinctive structures such as the Hammershus Visitor Centre on Bornholm and has designed various utilitarian objects for acclaimed Danish design brands through his firm, Christoffer Harlang Architects 

To mark the relaunch of The Klint Chair, we visited Harlang at his office on Holmen to discuss Kaare Klint's significance to Danish design and architecture and gain insight into the architect's unique connection with The Church Chair.  

I find Klint to be one of the most inspiring designers. His approach is so clear, and his sense of proportions and materials is so refined.

Christoffer Harlang

Klint's legacy: Tradition and innovation

As a professor, Harlang not only works on preserving cultural heritage but also views it as a source of valuable knowledge and experience - much like Klint did when he co-founded the Furniture School at the Royal Danish Academy in 1924. Klint's consistent methodology, which he passed on to designers such as Børge Mogensen, Poul Kjærholm, and Mogens Koch, revolves around renewing tradition by learning from the past and developing it to meet new challenges.  

In terms of his design work, Harlang shares how he operates based on Klint's methodology for enhancing design. For him and Klint, it's not about introducing something groundbreaking to the world but improving existing principles to meet contemporary needs: "Kaare Klint's way of innovation directly inspires me. I find his ability to evolve, challenge, and sharpen through an understanding of the possibilities of tradition incredibly intriguing".  

Harlang highlights two central reasons why Klint's furniture has retained its relevance over time. Firstly, the timeless design of the furniture is deeply rooted in our cultural and traditional heritage, providing them with an immediate recognisability based on the simple fact of having seen them before. Secondly, Klint's furniture is highly refined, with carefully considered proportions and material quality at the highest level. This ability to combine recognisability, quality, and aesthetics makes Klint's furniture significant in our modern lives while contributing to the global recognition of Danish design. 

The chair of the professor's

The church chairs in Christoffer Harlang's office have accommodated four generations of professors, including Mogens Koch, Vilhelm Wohlert, Hans Munk Hansen, and now Harlang himself. As a professor specialising in transformation, restoration, and cultural heritage, he has ensured that the chairs remain under his ownership. Purchased by Mogens Koch in the 1950s during his tenure as a professor at the Royal Danish Academy, the furniture has since become a permanent fixture in the school's inventory. 

Regarding the church chairs, Harlang mentions: "When we moved to Holmen after having offices at the Vandflyverhangaren, there was a great demand among my colleagues. However, I insisted that they accompany my position. So, as long as I hold this position, I sit in them. And when the day comes for someone new to take over, they will also enjoy the chairs". 

Børge Mogensen, Mogens Koch, and Poul Kjærholm designed several pieces for the school, which have remained integral to the institution since the 1950s, highlighting the enduring quality and aesthetic excellence for which Danish design is renowned. 

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