Kaare Klint (1888-1954) was a precursor to and teacher of the designers who made Danish modern style explode onto the international mid-century scene. In 1924 he helped to establish the influential Department of Furniture at the Royal Academy of Art in Copenhagen where he was also a lecturer and Professor of Architecture. Unlike the modernists, however, Klint worked with an unerring faith in the historical evolution of furniture forms and a commitment to the neo-classical designs. A substantial goal in his work was to take these pieces and try to rethink them and update them with the modern requirements. Although Klint counted among his devoted protégés Poul Kjaerholm and Børge Mogensen, many of his philosophies about design provided the backdrop against which the next generation of designers reacted.
Formally trained as a painter at the Polytechnic of Fredericksberg, Klint went on to study architecture at the Technical School of Copenhagen under his father, architect P.V. Jensen Klint and Carl Petersen. In 1914 Petersen invited Klint to assist him in the design of fixtures and fittings for the Fåborg Art Museum. An oak and woven cane chair that they produced for this commission, referring in form back to a traditional 18th century chair, is one of Klint's important designs. After establishing his own office in 1920, Klint would continue through the next two decades to work for museums, designing furniture for Copenhagen's Thorvaldsens Museum and the Danish Museum of Decorative Arts. His furniture designs were internationally exhibited as early as 1929 in Barcelona, and were shown at the 1937 Paris exhibition. In 1927 he designed a simple and elegant chair and armchair in teak with leather upholstery. His 1933 folding 'Safari' chair was inspired by a traditional piece that was originally designed for the British military. This chair, which was a market success, had a wooden frame and a canvas seat. Another chair from 1933, a deck lounge outfitted with a removable upholstered mat and pillow, was also inspired by earlier designs. These pieces walk a fine line between imitation, which Klint criticized, and creative revisitation. Klint's goal was for their overarching quality in that they were simple, elegant pieces of domestic equipment. They were mostly hand made by the small firm of Rudolph Rasmussen. Only later in his career, after establishing the firm Le Klint, did he make forays into mass production like his folded paper lampshade, designed with his son circa 1940.
Klint spent a great deal of his career conducting detailed studies on the relationship between furniture design and human proportions. Interested in redefining and fine-tuning the chair as, at the base level, the optimal tool for sitting, he conducted extensive research as to how this could be achieved. This theoretical approach is called anthropometrics and proved to be vital to later furniture and industrial designers. Also part of the study, Klint designed storage units customized to fit the objects they would contain, and established some of the standardized measurements for drawers and shelves. The dedication to scientific theory, however, never eclipsed his ever expanding desire to make a better chair and he spoke of the ideal interplay between theory and artistry in a 1930 interview: "a designer can learn to construct an item of furniture, section by section, on the basis of these dry facts, but at the same time give it the changing artistic form that suits him and his time."