Piet Hein

Born in Copenhagen in 1905, Piet Hein went on to become one of the twentieth century’s best-known Danes internationally. Studying both fine arts and theoretical physics in his youth, Hein found expression as both an artist and a scientist. As well as a renowned designer, Hein was an inventor, author, poet and mathematician. Combining these elements, his working method has been described as ‘architectural poetic design’. He himself explained that "Art is solution to problems which cannot be formulated clearly before they have been solved".

It was his mathematical aptitude that led Hein to propose the superellipse. In Stockholm city planning and in furniture design, this geometric solution found harmony between the circle and the square, between the ellipse and the rectangle.

Hein also sought harmony through words as an author and poet under the pseudonym Kumbel Kumbell. He wrote thousands of short poems known as ‘grooks’. Hein saw his harmonic form of poetry as poetic comment on everyday life; it has been suggested that grooks were perhaps intended as small instructions on that finest of all arts: the art of living.

Before his death in 1996, Hein was recognised and decorated for his work both nationally and internationally. Danish awards include the Industrial Design-prize (1971), Medal Ingenio et Arti (1985) and the annual prize of Danish Design Council (1989), while his international accolades include Die gute Industrieform (1971) and Nobel Lecturer (1983).

Piet Hein

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