Royal Architectural Institute of Canada

Awards of Excellence — 2019 Recipient

Klaus Nienkämper
Award Category: 
Awards of Excellence
Allied Arts Medal

Klaus Nienkämper
Nienkämper
Toronto, ON

Over the past 50 years, furniture manufacturer Klaus Nienkämper introduced modern design into offices, public spaces, and houses across Canada and internationally. He has continuously collaborated with architects and industrial designers, realizing a broad range of chairs, tables, and sofas to create holistic and integrated spaces.

The Nienkämper company, founded in 1968, has brought a high level of design standards to the fabrication of furniture in Canada. At first, making European modernist furniture under license, Nienkämper soon began hiring Canadian designers such as Thomas Lamb, Tom Deacon, George Yabu and Glenn Pushelberg, Mark Müller, Scot Laughton, Karim Rashid, and others.

Canadian architects who have worked directly with Nienkämper to produce furniture include RAIC Gold Medalist Arthur Erickson, FRAIC, and Brigitte Shim, FRAIC, with Howard Sutcliffe, FRAIC.

With Erickson, Nienkämper developed furniture for Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau’s office in Ottawa (1976); the Embassy of Canada in Washington D.C. (1989), and Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto (1982). The shaped plywood HAB chair by Shim-Sutcliffe Architects is one in a series of Canadian designs commissioned by Nienkämper.

In 2007, the firm worked with Polish-American architect Daniel Libeskind to create the Spirit Chair for the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto.

Nienkämper believes that modern furniture is more vital than ever because it contributes to significant spaces designed by architects.

Jury Comment(s): 

“Klaus Nienkämper’s furniture designs are fundamental to late-century Canadian architectural history.”

“Iconic Canadian buildings and cultural events  over the past five decades  that featured Nienkämper’s inimitable stamp include Expo 67, Pierre Trudeau’s limestone desk, and the defining vision of Toronto’s King Street East.”

“His work is supremely architectural. Nienkämper’s furnishings often show grand scale and primal qualities, framing spatial cores precisely located and harmonized within their surrounding architectural frames.”

Jury:

Shirley Blumberg, CM, FRAIC
Founding Partner, KPMB Architects
Member, Toronto Community Housing Design Review Panel
Toronto, ON

John Brown, FRAIC
RAIC Board of Directors First Vice President
Dean, Faculty of Environmental Design, University of Calgary
Principal, John Brown Architect, Founding partner, Housebrand
Calgary, AB

Philip Beesley, FRAIC
Architect, artist, Philip Beesley Architect
Professor, School of Architecture, University of Waterloo
Toronto, ON

Click for full version: 
HABITAT '67, MONTREAL, QC.

HABITAT '67, MONTREAL, QC.

Photo: MILOVAN KNEZEVIC

KARIM RASHID, KLOUD COLLECTION. NEOCON WEST TRADE SHOW, LOS ANGELES. 2007. FURNITURE MANUFACTURED BY NIENKAMPER.

KARIM RASHID, KLOUD COLLECTION. NEOCON WEST TRADE SHOW, LOS ANGELES. 2007. FURNITURE MANUFACTURED BY NIENKAMPER.

Photo: NIENKAMPER

PRIME MINISTER'S OFFICE LANGEVIN BLOCK, OTTAWA, CANADA 1980. INTERIOR DESIGN ARTHUR ERIKSON ARCHITECTS, FURNITURE MANUFACTURED BY NIENKAMPER

PRIME MINISTER'S OFFICE LANGEVIN BLOCK, OTTAWA, CANADA 1980. INTERIOR DESIGN ARTHUR ERIKSON ARCHITECTS, FURNITURE MANUFACTURED BY NIENKAMPER

Photo: FIONA SPALDING-SMITH

DANIEL LIEBESKIND SPIRIT CHAIR FOR THE ROYAL ONTARIO MUSEUM. 2005. FURNITURE MANUFACTURED BY NIENKAMPER.

DANIEL LIEBESKIND SPIRIT CHAIR FOR THE ROYAL ONTARIO MUSEUM. 2005. FURNITURE MANUFACTURED BY NIENKAMPER.

Photo: NIENKAMPER

POLO CHAIR FOR PRINCE CHARLES' 40TH BIRTHDAY AND GALEN WESTON'S POLO TEAM. DESIGNED AND MANUFACTURED BY KLAUS NIENKAMPER, 1988.

POLO CHAIR FOR PRINCE CHARLES' 40TH BIRTHDAY AND GALEN WESTON'S POLO TEAM. DESIGNED AND MANUFACTURED BY KLAUS NIENKAMPER, 1988.

Photo: NIENKAMPER

FOREIGN AFFAIRS, OTTAWA, DESIGN: ALISON HYMAS, FURNITURE MANUFACTURED BY NIENKAMPER.

FOREIGN AFFAIRS, OTTAWA, DESIGN: ALISON HYMAS, FURNITURE MANUFACTURED BY NIENKAMPER.

PHOTO CREDIT NOT AVAILABLE

ROYAL ONTARIO MUSEUM. FURNITURE MANUFACTURED BY NIENKAMPER.

ROYAL ONTARIO MUSEUM. FURNITURE MANUFACTURED BY NIENKAMPER.

Photo: TOM ARBAN

BRIGITTE SHIM AND HOWARD SUTCLIFFE, HAB CHAIR. 2004. FURNITURE MANUFACTURED BY NIENKAMPER.

BRIGITTE SHIM AND HOWARD SUTCLIFFE, HAB CHAIR. 2004. FURNITURE MANUFACTURED BY NIENKAMPER.

Photo: NIENKAMPER

armadillos