Kasper Salto has established himself as one of Denmark’s most successful contemporary furniture designers. His comfortable and ultra-sleek chairs have caught the imagination of design lovers worldwide.
By Josefine Filippa Ørskov
The grandson of famous Danish ceramicist Axel Salto, design is deeply ingrained in Kasper Salto’s DNA. Axel Salto was a seminal figure on the Danish art scene in the early to mid 1900s, and his ceramics are now in high demand worldwide. Kasper Salto has never been shy of walking in the footsteps of his legendary grandfather and decided at a young age to become a cabinetmaker, adding a contemporary sense of modern living to the family tradition.
Silver Medal and design awards
At just 21, Kasper Salto became a fully-qualified cabinetmaker in 1988 and received the first of what was to become a plethora of awards, namely a Silver Medal for his apprenticeship test piece. In 1994, Salto also graduated from the Danish Design School. And until 1998, while employed at Rud Thygesen, one of the most influential Danish furniture designers, he regularly tutored at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts. At the Rud Thygesen studio he met Peter Stærk, whose friendship has had a strong impact on Salto’s professional career.
In 1997, Kasper Salto designed the Runner chair for Peter Stærk, which quickly became a success both at home and abroad. Salto opened his own studio in Copenhagen’s Christianshavn neighbourhood in 1998. He relocated his studio to Sankt Peders Stræde 22 in central Copenhagen in 2006, where he has worked with a number of leading furniture and lighting manufacturers, including Fritz Hansen, Lightyears, DubaB8, Engelbrecht Furniture, Stærk Design and Nemo Lighting in Italy. He has received a number of honours for his work, including the Knud V. Engelhardt Memorial Award in 2005, the Finn Juhl Prize in 2010 and the Danish Design Prize 2010 for his NAP chair.
Denmark is famed for its furniture design. Indeed, so much so that the nation’s design innovators have been all but eclipsed by the great legends of Denmark’s design tradition. However, Kasper Salto has never lingered in the shadows. The industrious designer drew a large following at a young age for contemporising the pure-lined Nordic design tradition with an emphasis on eco-sustainable materials and a relaxed sense of pragmatism – values that are epitomised in his three biggest successes, the Runner, Ice and NAP chairs.
It took Kasper Salto just three months to create the Runner stacking chair, which since its launch in 1997 has received a host of honours. His vision to create a multifunctional, versatile chair had one overarching aim – comfort. Kasper Salto said at the time:
“What I have in mind is offering a way to change your sitting position without compromising on comfort, which is why the chair allows you to change your position from left to right and on to a more relaxed back posture, which is nice if you have just eaten or simply need to relax your body.”
The very same year the chair was designed it received an award from the Danish lifestyle magazine *Bo Bedre*. Another two honours followed the year after, namely the Won Spectrum Award and an award from Moderni, which in 1999 were joined by a two additional accolades, an ID Prize and a G-prize.
In 2002, Kasper Salto became the first designer commissioned to create a series of chairs for indoor or outdoor use for the illustrious Danish furniture manufacturer Fritz Hansen, a company that has over the years featured products by some of Denmark’s top designers. The result was the Ice chair, which combines the virtues of classic comfort with a future-forward choice of materials. The frame is made of natural anodized aluminium, and the backrest, patterned to resemble the veins of a leaf, along with the seat are made of ASA plastic, which is a sturdy and sustainable choice. The result is a very comfortable and durable lightweight chair that reflects the designer’s pure-lined aesthetics and versatile sense of functionality.
NAP stands for ‘Normal’, ‘Active’ and ‘Passive’ and refers to the various seating positions Kasper Salto had in mind. But naturally, as the name implies, it’s also tempting to conclude that the chair will let you enjoy a snooze. NAP has attracted international attention and reflects the very essence of Nordic design: Simplicity, functionality and attention to detail. The ribs on the seat are designed to ensure that you don’t slide off, which is often the case with shell chairs. The chair is both sturdy and stackable, but as a standalone piece it also offers sculptural quality, attracting your attention and evoking a desire to try it out. NAP has the potential to become a classic and has been acknowledged with two of Denmark’s top design awards, the Danish Design Prize 2010/2011 and the Finn Juhl Prize in 2010.
Recently, Kasper Salto, in collaboration with his wife, textile designer Rikke Salto, has designed a unisex everyday watch for Rosendahl Timepieces. The watch and its 44mm dial are rendered with a sleek Scandinavian look contrasted by a Velcro strap, a design detail reminiscent of the legendary REMREM watch. Arguably more conspicuous than the ultra-minimalist timepiece itself, the versatile Velcro strap is indeed an eye-catcher. The watch can be worn on the wrist, around the neck or be sported as a pocket watch.