Poul Kjaerholm was originally trained as a carpenter and continued his studies at the Danish School of Arts and Crafts. Unlike other Danish designers from the period; however, his use of newer, unconventional materials kept his work from appearing often at the Copenhagen Cabinetmaker's Guild Exhibitions.
In particular, he enjoyed working with steel and considered it a natural material with the same artistic fineness as other natural materials. Therefore, while he still maintained a close relationship with natural woods and traditional processes, his work was geared more towards mass production and the energy of the modern movement rather than arts and crafts. He worked for Fritz Hansen for about a year, where he designed a number of noteworthy chair prototypes. In 1955, Poul Kjaerholm initiated his productive collaboration with manufacturer Ejvind Kold Christensen, which lasted until his death in 1980.
Inspired by Bauhaus design, Kjaerholm worked for several years manipulating the form of his chromed steel and leather chair that won the Grand Prix at the Milan Triennial in 1957. It appeared first in 1951 with an external frame, subtle armrests and a halyard seat and back and later evolved into the popular "PK 22". Throughout the fifties he designed several other versions, one with a functional woven cane seat that would gently bend to the pressures of the body to give a soft support, and employed the technique of padding the cane around the edges of the frame to make it more comfortable. In 1982, Fritz Hansen took over the production and sales of "The Kjaerholm Collection", developed from 1951 to 1967.
Kjaerholm's designs are logical to the minute detail with an aura of exclusivity, making them some of the most highly sought after and widely discussed designs in the market today. In April 2005, Luminaire was pleased to illuminate audiences as Michael Sheridan discussed the striking influence of Kjaerholm's work on modern design.