Poul was born in 1929 in Østervrå, Denmark. In 1948 Kjaerholm started as a student of a furniture maker to learn the trade and gain work experience. In 1952 he started the Architecture course at the Danish school Arts of Crafts, this school was located in Copenhagen. Poul Kjaerholm died in 1980 in Hillerød, Denmark.
Kjaerholm distinguished himself from other designers because he used steel instead of the often used wood. Yet he also used many natural materials in his designs, such as canvas and leather, but also rope and rattan (not to be confused with bamboo). Rattan comes from the rattan palm.
Poul Kjaerholm designed a low armchair in 1955. This was taken into production by Fritz Hansen. The name of this world famous chair is PK22.
The frame of the PK22 is stainless and the model is derived from his graduation assignment the "Element" chair, this chair was also called the PK25. Poul Kjaerholm even won a prize with the PK22 seat at the most important furniture fair in the world, the Milan Triennale. This was in 1957. He won the Grand Prix here.
Also in 1960 Poul Kjaerholm won the Grand Prix prize because of his industrial designs. The designs by Poul Kjaerholm have become permanent designs of several museums. Like the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Victoria and the Albert museum in London. But not only in these museums are the collections of Kjaerholm, also in many other museums in Norway, Denmark, Germany and Sweden the famous designs can be found.
After the PK22 chair, Poul Kjaerholm came up with several designs with the name that started with his initials "PK". In 1960 he came with the PK9. This was a chair with three legs of steel. The seat was fiberglass-covered with leather. In 1965, Poul Kjaerholm designed a lounge chair, which he called the PK24. A lounger with an elegant cane bed. The PK24 is because of its fantastic appearance used in the science-fiction film, Minority Report in 2002 by Tom Cruise.
After various designs Kjaerholm expanded his collection with variants on his existing models. For example, he changed the material of the furniture.
Kjaerholm had a good friend who, besides entrepreneur, was also the builder of his designs. This Kold Christensen built all designs from Kjaerholm from 1950, and after his death in 1980 Fritz Hansen took over the production of Kjaerholm's designs around 1982.