Photo: PP Møbler
The story of PP Møbler starts in the small town of Vejen in Jutland where the two brothers, Ejnar and Lars Peder Pedersen, complete their cabinet makers’ education with Master of Crafts, Søren Villadsen. Shortly after in 1948, Ejnar and Søren Villadsen’s son Knud starts to set up a workshop in Rungsted and later in Allerød. Nevertheless, the cooperation ends in 1953. But during this brief period Ejnar becomes acquainted with, among others, Jørgen and Nanna Ditzel, and Gunnar Aagaard Andersen. During its short lifespan, the workshop was involved in series of interesting experimental projects with different artists and designers. Hence, Ejnar obtains a solid network. And, when the workshop closes in 1953, it is only natural for Ejnar to go to his brother, and suggest that they start a workshop of their own.
On Maundy Thursday the 2nd of April 1953, Ejnar Pedersen takes the first spit, initiating the building of a 150 m2 workshop. The company still has the same address, but today the workshop has grown to the size of 1800 m2. Setting up a workshop is hard work, as Ejnar and Lars Peder discovers. In the daytime, they work on building the workshop and at night they build furniture in a borrowed workshop. In the beginning, it is especially Ejnar’s own designs which are being produced. But in a very short time, orders start coming in for designed products. The first customers are Bovirke (who sell furniture by among others Finn Juhl), the furniture shop William Watting, and A.P. Stolen, for whom PP Møbler produce the lower frame for Hans J. Wegner’s no 19, The Teddy Bear Chair.
As early as 1955, PP Møbler embrace the more experimental sides to cabinet making - and not least the possibilities of wood, which has been characteristic for the workshop ever since. Together with artist, Gunnar Aagaard some highly interesting prototypes are developed. As such, this is the beginning of the extensive developmental work with designers and artists, which has set some remarkable marks in Danish design history. In 1956, PP Møbler extends for the first of seven times by adding a 150 m2 machine workshop. The year after, the first journeyman, Ove Metysia, completes his apprenticeship at the workshop, receiving a silver medal for his final project.
Photo: Jacob Ehrbahn
By the end of the 1950's, PP Møbler has established itself in Denmark as a serious an innovative workshop. And in the 1960's manages to start an actual cooperation with the Danish architect, Hans J. Wegner. Together they develop the prototype for the Ox-chair, which today is manufactured by Erik Jørgensen’s Møbelfabrik A/S. The following years, from 1962 to 1968, the cooperation continues, creating many exciting prototypes, which go into production at other workshops and factories, mainly at Getama and Johannes Jensen.
After years of successful cooperation throughout the 1960's, Wegner draws his first chair for PP Møbler, PP 203, which is launched in May 1969. An important reason for Wegner’s recognition is PP Møbler’s uncompromising attitude to quality and materials. One anecdote goes that Wegner was not too concerned about the perfection of the lower frame for The Teddy Bear Chair, since most was to be covered by upholstery. Ejnar responded by stating that the journeymen also needed to find pride in their craft. Besides, the company would not send second-rate craftsmanship on the market.
The well-known Danish architectural critic, Henrik Steen Møller has expressed the following about PP Møbler attitude to their craft, which Wegner discovered in the 1960's: 'The workshop in Allerød has several trademarks: Quality in the true sense of the word, meaning from idea over material to execution and result...'
Photo: Jacob Ehrbahn
Cooperating with Wegner, PP Møbler embarked on a new, constructive expansion period in the beginning of the 70ies. The company expanded the joining workshop with 400 m2 in 1972. This was the fourth expansion – the second took place in 1969, with 400 m2 being added to the machine workshop, and the third in 1965 where all buildings were integrated making the company work under one roof. 1972 was a busy year. The workshop takes over several Wegner models from Andreas Tuck, and the company’s production rises to the extent where the first full-time salesman, Gerhard Olsen is hired.
In the mean time, the second generation of the family-run company, Søren Holst Pedersen, completes his apprenticeship as a cabinet maker with Virum Møbelsnedkeri in 1969. However, he continues education an graduates as wood technician at Dansk Teknologisk Institut. Nevertheless, he does not return to PP Møbler immediately, but chooses to work in Silkeborg for five years with Dansk Spånplade Kompagnis Laboratorium. In 1977 he returns and starts as production manager at PP Møbler.
In 1974, PP Møbler starts exporting furniture to the Japanese market. Trade is instigated with the Japanese chain of furniture shops where Hans Kristensen, who later becomes PP Møbler’s regular salesman on the Japanese market, is manager. Today, Japan is still one of PP Møbler biggest export markets. The reason is the country’s long tradition for arts and crafts develops alongside attention to quality, just like at PP Møbler.
Photo: Jacob Ehrbahn
In the latter half of the 1970's, PP Møbler manifest its position as one of the most important actors on the design and quality conscious part of the Danish furniture scene. Several new Wegner models are created and the first major interior decoration projects start appearing. Thus, PP Møbler, cooperating with Poul Kjærholm, manufacture concert hall chairs for the Museum of Modern Art, Lousiana. The task is demanding, since it not only challenges the visual expression, but also encompasses innovative work on wood as an acoustic material. The concert hall, which still has the original chairs, bear witness to PP Møbler’s ability to manufacture furniture with a life-span as long as the material itself. The same year, PP Møbler cooperates with interior decorator, Niels Fagerholt on an exhibition, Mesters Møbler, at Statens Kunstfond.
The following years are marked by important organisational re-structuring at PP Møbler. In 1977, Lars Peder chooses to withdraw from company management in order to concentrate on his craft. After this, Ejnar remains sole manager until the generational change in 1998. In this period, the workshop is honoured by Møbelfabrikantforeningens Furniture Award in 1980, the Bruno Mathsson Award in 1996, and Nationalbankens Honorific Award in 1998.
Wegner continues to design new models for PP Møbler throughout the 1980's. The culmination of design and craftsmanship in The Circle Chair, which transgress the technological and formal limits of the craft. But the decade also contains many assignments creating interiors for various institutions. A large quantity of Wegner chairs are delivered to the DSB ferries in 1981, in Holstebro Town Hall, minimalist and organic interiors are created in cooperation with Dahl and Lindhardsen in 1986, and in 1988 Baltica’s headquarters in Ballerup are furnished with Wegner’s PP 58.
Photo: Jacob Ehrbahn
As the craftmanlike and technological demands for The Circle Chair indicate, PP Møbler is more than ever focused on innovation. Partly, this is due to Søren being back at the workshop after having working as production manager at Fritz Hansens Møbelfabrik from 1982-87. In the beginning of the 1980's, Søren cooperates with Dansk Teknologisk Institut on a new technique called precompression, which is successfully implemented when PP Møbler starts manufactoring Poul Kjærholms chair PK 15. The return of Søren also signals the beginning of a generational change at PP Møbler.
Many new models are created for PP Møbler in the 1990's. There is still plenty from Wegner, but other internationally recognised designers make their exciting contributions. The prototype for Nanna Ditzels popular Trinidad Chair is developed, Verner Pantons curious VIPP goes into production, and cooperation is instigated with Professor, Vilhelm Wohlert. The decade also contains many large-scale interior projects, both nationally and internationally. Churchill College in England is furnished with Wegner chairs, as is Sagawa Museum in Japan, and several ministries in Folketinget.
The 1990's is also the decade where Hans J. Wegner is celebrated at a special exhibition at Dansk Arkitektur Centerin 1991, which in the following years becomes a global event. Thus the exhibition visits Okinawa in Japan, Toronto in Canada, Switzerland and Tønder, Wegner’s home town. PP Møbler is also invovled on a more specific note at Munkeruphus in cooperation with architect, Ole Gjerløv Knudsen.
By the end of the decade, PP Møbler starts cooperation with Søren Ulrik Petersen, who so far has supplied several new furniture for the collection. In 2003, on the occasion of PP Møbler 50th anniversary, Dansk Design Center presents the exhibition ‘Ekspperiments’ focusing on PP Møbler’s experimental prototypes. Curater for the exhibition was professor, architect MMA Hanne Kjærholm.
Photo: PP Møbler