Educated at the Copenhagen School of Arts and Crafts in the 1950s and 1960s, Karpf also worked for Fritz Hansen and trained under Scandinavian masters such as Arne Jacobsen. A noted individualist, many of Karpfs early works are hallmarked by keen experimentation and a profound understanding of materials. Through the decades, Karpf’s designs explored the possibilities of flexible seating solutions in a minimalist aesthetic, but retained a solid backbone of technique.
The “Rocket” Chair of 1964 attracted marked attention at the Cabinetmakers’ Guild Exhibition in Copenhagen the same year. Karpf was a newcomer in a field of established and award-winning designers, yet managed to create a piece which stood out in a crowd; no doubt drawing inspiration from fashion and the Pop Art movement. Henrik Sten Møller at Politiken remarked, “…Ten young newcomers show their paces in the venerable rooms…Peter Karpf is undoubtedly very talented. Someday his experiments are going to produce surprisingly good results…[the chair] contains many interesting and valid ideas.”
Executed in ash and a rich, cool color palate, the “Rocket” Chair draws on Pop Art narratives of basic geometries in bright colors. Sculptural in appearance, the chair contains ashwood posts which radiate outward in a conical form from a base shaped as a painter’s palate. Possibly taking inspiration from Verner Panton’s “Cone” Chair of 1950, this “Rocket” form explores a minimalist approach to the structure, allowing visibility through the various spokes. Experimental in nature, the chair offers the possibility for three varied seating positions via a gently curved arm rest as well as individual, wool upholstered pads which provide back and head support for the sitter.
With many pieces in museums, such as the Museum of Modern Art, New York , Peter Karpf has garnered global accolades for his design innovation and aesthetic creativity. In 2002, Karpf was awarded one of the most prestigious design awards in Scandinavia- The Bruno Mathsson Prize, with the jurors remarking, “His strong sense of form in combination with a deep understanding of materials and manufacturing techniques make him one of the greatest Contemporary Nordic designers.”
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