Lot 389
  • 389

Peter Karpf

30,000 - 50,000 USD
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  • Peter Karpf
  • Rare "Rocket" Chair
  • with partial paper label
  • ash, wool upholstery
from the 1964 Cabinetmakers' Guild Exhibition, Copenhagen, Denmark


Private Collection, Denmark
FK Gallery, Lejre, Denmark


Cabinetmakers' Guild Exhibition, Copenhagen, Denmark, 1964


Grete Jalk, Dansk Møbelkunst gennem 40 aar, vol. 4: 1957-1966, Denmark, 1987, pp. 262-263


Overall very good condition. The ash retains a nice patina and the upholstery is in good, clean condition. Please note this upholstery is not original as indicated in the written catalogue, but sympathetically executed by a professional restorer. The wood surfaces present with faint minor surface scratches, nicks and scattered minor abrasions, consistent with age and gentle use, largely concentrated to the lower portions of design. There is one gently execution restoration to one spindle above where it attaches to the seat. This is professionally executed and nearly seamless. Executed in a vibrant color palate, the "Rocket" chair draws on Pop Art narratives of basic geometries in bright colors. Sculptural in appearance and experimental in form, the chair offers the possibility for three varied seating positions via a gently curve arm rest as well as individual, wool upholstered pads which provide back and head support for the sitter. A rare and well documented chair, the piece retains its original producer's paper label.
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion.

Catalogue Note

Dynamic in form and thoughtfully functional, the “Rocket” Chair by Peter Karpf wonderfully demonstrates the optimistic experimentation and bold styles that emerged in the early 1960s.  Punctuated by vibrant wool upholstery, the chair examines the duality of sinuous, horizontal movement in conjunction with energetic, vertical lines.

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.”