Poul Henningsen (PH) used the concept of the humble axe handle to create a table that is strong, beautiful and durable. While Denmark has a history of axe design (the Dane Axe was used throughout Europe as a knightly weapon from the 10th to the 16th centuries), PH’s inspiration for the PH Axe Table came after he visited Canada. Henningsen saw beyond the axe as simply a functional item for chopping wood (or in ancient times, battle and warcraft) and instead saw the potential for it’s reinvention in to an interesting and sturdy table, constructing early models in Hickory wood.
The axe handle is synonymous with strength and simplicity: there is a sense of honesty to it’s tactile nature. For PH it was a logical progression to evolve the ancient axe design: to take the best of it’s attributes and translate them in to a table that is entirely relevant, practical and aesthetically beautiful for the 21st Century. With the PH Axe Table, PH created a piece of furniture that would serve and protect as an comforting ally of exemplary function and beautiful form inside the modern home, corporate environment or public space designed for contemporary living.
Ash and Oak were the materials used most frequently throughout Europe for the manufacture of the hafts of axes in Europe in the Middle Ages, so by producing the PH Axe Table design with legs of natural oak, black oak and white ash, as well as walnut, homage is paid to the original object that inspired this innovative design. Through the display of the delicate grain of the wood on the table legs and their fluid organic form, there is a reminder of the strong connection to nature of this piece of furniture that gives the feeling of the most wholesome design integrity. The handle of an axe is designed to feel warm to the touch, conveying a feeling of power and control: PH’s Axe Table brings warmth and a sense symbolic strength to the interior environment in which it is placed.
In the 20th and 21st Century there has been a general move towards the appreciation of the raw unadorned beauty of industrial materials and spaces. The concept began in ernest when the architectural Modernist and Bauhaus movements pioneered building and interior designs that often featured the use of materials in their natural form and frequently did not attempt to conceal their function, even if they did not fulfil what had been the traditional requirements to be considered ‘attractive’. Poul Henningsen’s furniture designs are very much in synergy with this way of thinking: PH’s Axe Table does not refine the shape of the axe haft that inspire the legs, but rather makes it a feature of the design, representing the values of utilitarian function and the uncomplicated aesthetics that underpin it.
The PH Axe Table is available with a PH 3 1/2 – 2 1/2 Table Lamp produced by Louis Poulsen exclusively manufactured for PH Furniture with the cable outlet at the bottom so that it can be integrated directly in to the PH Axe Table with the wiring concealed. The result is a Mid-Century table design created by Poul Henningsen in the first half of the 1950s and produced today by PH Furniture that is capable of enhancing a variety of interior settings: from contemporary buildings to the more traditional, in homes, hotels and corporate spaces. The PH Axe Table: an innovation in design that goes beyond the cutting edge.