From the February/March 2023 Issue  

Attention-Getting Legs

Writer Ren Miller

The PK61 coffee table looks as fresh today as it did when introduced 67 years ago

A glistening marble discovered near the Arctic Circle adds a new spin to the PK61 coffee table.

The little black dress. The fragrance of a favorite flower. Children at play. Each one is simple in its own way yet captivating. The same might be said of some furniture designs, including the PK61™ coffee table.

Noted Danish designer Poul Kjærholm (1929-1980) introduced the coffee table in 1956 after training as a cabinetmaker and then continuing his education at what is now the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, School of Design, in Copenhagen. It was at the Royal Academy that Kjærholm’s transformation into a noteworthy furniture architect began.

After graduating from the academy in 1952, he went on to design furniture noted for its understated elegance and the highest level of craftsmanship. He had a particular interest in construction materials, especially steel, which he felt deserved the artistic respect that was commonly awarded to wood.

That belief sprang to life in many of his creations, and notably so in the PK61 coffee table. The elements of the table are simple and common: four legs form a frame that supports a removable square top. But how he interpreted those elements was, in a word, captivating. He made the legs of steel and moved them from the corners to the sides of the table, lending an air of movement and making them as important to the design as the top. For the top itself, he specified stone or glass at a time when most other designers still chose wood. The resulting design reflects Kjærholm’s devotion to pure forms and materials.

The year before designing PK61, Kjærholm initiated a collaboration with furniture manufacturer Ejvind Kold Christensen that continued for the rest of his life — the two families remain close even today. But two years after Kjærholm’s death, his trustees entrusted Fritz Hansen with the production and sale of the designs he had developed from 1951 to 1967. Fritz Hansen, a global leader in furniture, lighting and accessory design and production, introduced a collection of furniture by several Danish designers to celebrate its own 150th anniversary last year.

The collection includes an anniversary version of the PK61 with a top crafted of a sparkling marble sourced in Norway near the Arctic Circle. The marble, millions of years old, is gray-white with mineral flecks, rippled veining and a tumbled finish. The base is satin-brushed stainless steel. The anniversary coffee table retails for $6,244. Earlier versions are available with tops of slate, marble, granite or glass. The PK61 measures 31.5 inches wide and deep and 12.6 inches high.

A larger version of the coffee table (PK61A™) measures 47.2 inches wide and deep and 12.6 inches high and is available with tops of marble, granite or glass. For both tables, the marble is available in rolled (textured) or honed finishes.

In announcing the anniversary collection, Fritz Hansen noted that Kjærholm “entered the scene at a time when Danish furniture had reached a zenith, both at home and abroad, designed and shaped by inspired architects and cabinetmakers. Poul’s furniture found a natural place for itself on the same high level, but he broadened furniture design with a completely new view.”

Fritz Hansen products are available in New Jersey at Design Within Reach in Paramus. For information about Fritz Hansen home furnishings,