The Furniture Prize


On 1 May, the opening day of the Scandinavian Furniture Fair 2002 at the Bella Center, furniture designers Boris Berlin and Poul Christiansen – who jointly run Komplot Design – will receive the 2002 Furniture Prize of DKK 100,000 and the prize trophy that goes with it, the miniature granite chair by sculptor Poul Isbak. The Furniture Prize, awarded annually by the Danish Furniture Industry Foundation, has been one of the most prestigious awards in the Danish furniture and design universe for more than 30 years.

The two designers, who have been jointly running the design studio Komplot Design for 15 years, will receive the prize in recognition of their “…furniture design, which, it is true, has echoes of Danish furniture tradition in its simple idiom and minimalism, but which has also been enriched with international influences and a choice of materials and production techniques that differ significantly from what has been employed by manufacturers hitherto. Thus, Boris Berlin and Poul Christiansen are clearly representatives of a contemporary form of high-quality furniture design, where national characteristics are subservient to wider international customer and user appeal,” the foundation’s board stated in its citation.

Experiments lead to innovative solutions

This citation really captures Komplot Design’s view of the design profession and its approach to commissions. Perhaps because of their different cultural backgrounds, the two designers do not feel shackled to the Danish tradition of furniture design with its roots in the cabinet-maker’s craft. They have no inhibitions about experimenting boldly with new materials, processes and technologies, and the results often take the form of innovative furniture solutions, breaking new ground in terms of form as well as function.

One recent example is Komplot’s injection-moulded rubber chair “Non”, from 2000, produced by the Swedish firm, Källemo AB. With its geometric, right-angled appearance, “Non” is the archetypal chair that, in its minimalist idiom, is so readily recognisable and yet so virtually anonymous in its simplicity that it somehow blends in with the overall picture – and where the characteristics of the material make the chair practical in numerous situations where wooden furniture along traditional lines would be inadequate.

International sphere of operation

The fact that the two designers are not slavishly tied to the Danish design tradition may also explain why two-thirds of the design studio’s commissions come from international clients. Especially Swedish and Norwegian furniture firms like Källemo, Klaessons, Swedese and ForaForm frequently appear on Komplot’s list of references, but German and Japanese furniture firms have also had furniture designed there.