It started in a workshop in a backyard to Vestergade 47 in Aarhus. The year was 1982. Carsten Michelsen stood by the saw in the old workshop and turned a door over in his hands – cut out of a piece of wood. It was solid and square in shape. Attracted by its simplicity, he realised he was holding both an uncomplicated building block, a timeless design and a solid piece of craftsmanship that could last an entire lifetime. Behind the work in the shop was a vision of creating a kitchen classic that, in line with the iconic Danish furniture designs of the 1950s, could last over generations – both in terms of quality craftsmanship, materials and design idiom.
“My wishes for the future could be traced back to the past.”
Carsten Michelsen grew up in West Jutland in a family with a long tradition in handicrafts. His ancestors were artisans responsible for Lønne Kirke church at Nørre Nebel, numerous houses and hand-crafted furniture that is still around 120 years later. While Carsten was at upper secondary school he spent his holidays working with his uncles, where strong views on lasting, durable design and quality became a natural part of his DNA.
Danish furniture designers and craftsmanship took on a key role in Carsten Michelsen’s life. His dream was to make a kitchen as a piece of furniture. And when he stood at the old saw in the workshop in Vestergade, Aarhus with a square door cut from one piece of solid wood, he had a composed, well-defined geometrical form that generated the simplicity and visual calm that makes a design pleasing to the eye for many years.
The task now was to unite the simplicity in the design with a resilience in the materials and craftsmanship. The aim was to create a carpenter’s kitchen that could last an entire lifetime. The solid wood front frame gave the edges of the Form 1 cabinets additional strength. The visible wooden frame also gave the furniture exactly that expression Carsten Michelsen was looking for. All the joints had to be stronger than the wood, and the kitchens were built using traditional carpenter’s methods with dowels, mortise and tenon and dovetail joints and tongue and groove – simply because it lasts longer this way.
He achieved the beautiful, uniform expression in Form 1 by applying veneer to the outside of the solid wood. Solid wood is naturally uneven in colour and structure, and without the veneer he would not have been able to achieve the desired uniformity with the veneer on the cabinet doors.
“In its simplicity, the square was for me an especially strong basis for a lasting, durable expression that was also extremely functional.”
The workshop on the first floor of the backyard building on Vestergade 47 in Aarhus was replaced by bigger premises on Grønnegade 68 in the centre of the city. In 1984, the production of carpenter’s kitchens was moved to Kibæk. The former director of Herning Kitchens, Knud Troelsen had started a new kitchen factory here. To stay true to the virtues that had made Multiform’s kitchens into classic interior design pieces, Multiform continued as an independent brand. In 1992, managing director Leif Glintborg bought the workshop. Multiform has been owned by the Ballingslöv Group since 2003.