Grete Jalk 1920 - 2006
After graduating from high school in modern languages and philosophy,
she studied at the Design School for Women (1940–43) under cabinetmaker Karen
Margrethe Conradsen. She completed her studies at the Danish Design School in
1946, while receiving additional instruction from Kaare Klint at the Royal
Academy's Furniture School.
While consolidating contacts with numerous furniture designers, she took
part in the annual competitions of the Design Museum and the Design School's
furniture department where she also taught from 1950 to 1960.
In 1953, Jalk opened her own design studio. Inspired by Alvar Aalto's
laminated bent-plywood furniture and Charles Eames' molded plywood designs, she
began to develop her own boldly curved models.
General interest in her unconventional models grew only slowly although
they were sought after for exhibitions and collections.
In 1963, the English newspaper Daily Mirror launched a competition for a
chair for a man and a chair for a woman. Despite the fact that Jalk winning
first prize with two different laminated armchairs, “The He Chair” and “The She
Chair”, they never really came into production. Her associate, cabinetmaker and
furniture manufacturer Poul Jeppesen, made some prototypes but they were burnt
in a fire, bringing the project to an end.
In 2008, however, Lange Production began industrial production of the “She
Side by side with these rather advanced experiments, Jalk developed many
simple sets of furniture for manufacturers, including a high desk and stool, a
set of shelves in Oregon pine and a series of chairs with upholstered seats and
backs on a curved steel base.
Her industrially produced furniture has clear, comfortable lines. The
pieces are especially well suited for quick, straightforward production
schedules. Economic in their use of materials, they soon became competitive,
increasing Denmark's international reputation for furniture design. Firms in
the United States and Finland have manufactured some of her lines.
The designs she developed for modern homes included a wall-mounted
storage system (1961), a living-room set with a coffee table (1962), a
"Watch and Listen" unit (1963) with compartments for a home
entertainment system to house a stereo system, TV, records, tapes and speakers.
Jalk also designed wallpaper and upholstery, for example for Unika Væv,
and silverware for Georg Jensen.
Jalk also applied her creative talents to designing exhibitions, one of
the best examples being the travelling show she arranged for the Ministry of
Foreign Affairs in 1974 that was taken to 25 destinations around the world. The
project consisted of a series of cube-shaped, corrugated-cardboard packaging
boxes with silkscreen texts and logos. When unpacked, the boxes could be used
as stands and wall displays. Supplemented with support rods, they could quickly
serve as showcases and light fixtures.
Another notable event was her Designs by Danish Women exhibition in
Copenhagen's Bella Center in connection with the UN Conference on Women in
Jalk contributed enthusiastically to literature on Danish furniture.
Together with Gunnar Bratvold she edited the furniture and interior design
magazine Mobilia from 1956 to 1962 and again after Bratvold's death from 1968