Knud Holscher: Architectural Powerhouse
29th Nov 2017
A career spanning more than five decades, a client list that includes the who’s who in the architecture and design industry, awards and honors that run into double digits (58 and counting), Knud Holscher is definitely not your regular designer.
In fact, there’s nothing regular about this dynamic architect and industrial designer – neither his work, nor his attitude towards it. According to Holscher, "Design should not be defined; it formulates itself in the creative process…” Taking inspiration from nature, Holscher believes nothing is created for the sake of beauty alone. With this in mind, his designs are directed to the private user and its function in public spaces. He compares his designs to flowers that reflect the beauty of nature and maintain the different forms of nature in perfect harmony. His universe of lamps is called “Flowers” and all his designs are named after the flower that has inspired his creation.
Born on May 6, 1930 in Rdby, Denmark, Knud Helmuth Holscher, the designer studied with Erik Christian Sorensen and Professor Arne Jacobsen at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, School of Architecture in Copenhagen. After graduating in 1957, Holscher joined the office of Arne Jacobsen and by 1962, had moved to England to oversee the construction of Jacobsen's St Catherine's College in Oxford.
Holscher received almost instant recognition and was conferred the British Design Award in 1965 and 1966 for work done in collaboration with Alan Tye.
In 1966, he accepted a partnership in Danish architectural firm Krohn and Hartvig Rasmussen Architects, which was renamed KHRAS.
Holscher spent the early part of his career on a variety of architectural projects primary among them being the Odense University in Denmark, the Bahrain National Museum, and the Domestic Terminal and Terminal B at the Copenhagen Airport. Commenting on the difference between architecture and industrial design, Holscher makes an insightful statement that reflects his intensity, “creating a teacup is much more demanding than drawing a house because a house has a very complex program but there’s also the surroundings, the atmosphere. While a teacup has to operate in many environments and offer something new and different if it’s to beat out the rest and be a statement of design.”
In 1995, he parted ways with KHRAS to establish his independent design studio called Knud Holscher Design. Although the studio was mainly focused on design projects, Holscher did not give up his work as an architect and continued in that field for many years.
In 2011, Knud Holscher stepped down as head of the studio and the agency changed its name from Knud Holscher Design to Holscher Design. However he is still an important part of the day-to-day life at the studio and holds the title of art director.
Holscher Design, which is now run by seven partners, is counted amongst Scandinavia’s most recognized and award-winning design agencies with over 70 awards and 40 years of experience. The studio is mostly involved in designing products, graphics, service design, and design strategies.
Holscher Design is deeply entrenched in the Nordic philosophy and tradition and strives for a simple and clear design language with focus on the user and function. It has one finger firmly on the pulse of the design industry and comes up with futuristic designs using new methods of production and materials.
Holscher himself ensures that the private user is central to all his designs. According to him, it’s the job of a designer to ensure that the user understands the function of the object. Just as simply and clearly as we see in the shape of a button.
“Design should be like buttons on a shirt. With character to catch your attention, but no more so than you can use it without thinking about it,” says the world renowned designer.
His designs, all classics in their own right, have had a deep impact on the Danish design scene. He has received numerous awards for his work and is an Honorary RDI, Royal Designer for Industry since 2004.
Holscher lives in his brick-and-glass home, located 25 minutes north of Copenhagen, built in the 1970s and renowned for its architectural design. In tune with his philosophy of simplicity and harmony, the home is an experiment of a modest open plan, clean lines and simple interiors.
Currently, Holscher performs lighting projects for FLOS, creates exclusive accessories for Stelton in Copenhagen, writing utensils for Lamy (Germany) and spectacles for a client in Tokyo (Japan).