The Piet Hein Story
Piet Hein: scientist, mathematician, inventor, philosopher, poet. Oh yes, and a designer of modern Danish furniture. Hein was born in Copenhagen in 1905, where he studied physics and philosophy. In the 1930s, he joined the Danish Resistance and proceeded to publish (under the pseudonym Kumbel Kumbell) thousands of philosophical/political "grooks" (short poems).
All the while, he sought harmony in geometry as well as his world. It was while contemplating a solution to the traffic problems plaguing Sergels Torg square in Stockholm that he devised a solution that turned out to also be perhaps his greatest contribution to both modern furniture design and modern engineering: the Super-Ellipse.
Why We Love Piet Hein
For Piet Hein there was no unbridgeable gap between the subjectivity of the fine arts and the objective world of science. So it just made sense to him to parlay his many other gifts into the design of beautiful and beautifully functional furniture. With that, his Super-Ellipse became more than just a solution to a unique mathematical problem. It is, in somewhat poetic terms, the most harmonious physical shape. Its combination of square with round, rectangular with elliptical gives it fluidity ideal for applications ranging from roundabouts to stadiums to lengthy tabletops.
In His Own Words
"Man is the animal that draws lines which he himself then stumbles over. In the whole pattern of civilization there have been two tendencies, one toward straight lines and rectangular patterns and one toward circular lines. There are reasons, mechanical and psychological, for both tendencies. Things made with straight lines fit well together and save space. And we can move easily — physically or mentally — around things made with round lines. But we are in a straitjacket, having to accept one or the other, when often some intermediate form would be better."
Noteworthy Products by Piet Hein
In collaboration with two more famous Danish designers--Arne Jacobsen and Bruno Mathsson--Piet Hein created the extensive Table Series for Fritz Hansen. The collection is comprised of a full range of shapes, sizes, heights and base types. The most distinctive shape is, of course, the Super-Elliptical. The elongated oval form is ideal for modern communal dining. It is a "democratic" shape, allowing everyone at the table to have an equal position and to have full view of everyone else.