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Since the foundation of the brand in 1839, handmade design traditions have been passed on from generation to generation. Explore the history of the Kähler family here.
1808–1884 – Herman Joachim Kähler
Herman J. Kähler immigrates from northern Germany to Næstved in 1839. Shortly after his arrival in 1839, he starts his pottery at Kindhestegade in Næstved, where the story of Kähler begins.
Herman J. Kähler is a trained potter, and using old traditions he sticks to making utensils such as milk dishes, maternity buckets and jam jars, etc. However, it is for his production of stoves that he receives the greatest recognition. Herman J. Kähler runs Kähler from 1839 to 1872. During this period, he has seven children, of whom the two sons, Herman August and Carl Frederik, will continue to run the company.
When Herman J. Kähler retired in 1872, his sons Herman August Kähler and Carl Frederik Kähler took over the company. Carl Frederik continued ceramic production in Næstved, but it was Herman August that put the Kähler ceramic on the world map.
1846-1917 – Herman August Kähler
After completing his apprenticeship with his father, Herman August is taught glaze painting at Holmegaard Glasværk, then travels around Europe and works in workshops in Berlin, Strasbourg and Paris. In 1867, he returns to Næstved full of impressions and inspiration. Now he is ready to take over the workshop.
Already in 1875, he built a new workshop at Kählersbakken in Næstved. This is where he really starts to try his hand at artistic design and experiment with the glazes. This artistic venture attracts many well-known Danish artists, and it was Herman August that started the artistic colony in Næstved. The glazed colours became his signature – especially the red lustre. Normally, this was only used for decoration, but at the world exhibition in Paris in 1889, he put up a product completely dipped in the metallic red lustre glaze. Together with his signature, HAK, the red lustre became Kähler’s trademark.
It was also man-of-the-world Herman August Kähler who generated international interest in Kähler Keramik. He attended exhibitions around the world, generating interest from retailers and museums in Paris, New York, Chicago, Malmo, Stockholm, Brussels, Berlin and San Francisco. Herman August had a major impact on the Kähler workshop. To this day, his initials, HAK, are stamped at the bottom of all Kähler products.
1876–1940 – Herman H.C. Kähler
In 1917, Herman H.C. Kähler takes over the company from his father, Herman August Kähler. Time and tastes have changed, and figures such as lions eating lunch or unshaped vases and pots in bright colours are less in demand. Instead, Herman H.C. returns to the old pottery traditions and starts producing wheel-turned objects decorated with the old technique of horn painting. His style was beautiful, and marked by his own personal interpretation.
Herman H.C.'s great strength was that he managed to inspire and encourage the talented women who painted the ceramics to challenge the various decoration techniques. It was the horn-painted split decorations in particular that characterised the works of Kähler in the time under Herman H.C. Yet, despite the fact that he was one of the Kähler family's greatest designers, and it was his artistic imagination that launched the workshop into horn-painted split decorations, his reputation that followed in the years to come seemed less brilliant.
It is why Herman H.C. is not considered to be a particularly distinctive person in the Kähler history, perhaps because he had difficulty living up to his father, Herman August Kähler's big legacy. Moreover, there were also many great artists in the workshop during the same period, and they were not as reserved as Herman H.C. Kähler.
1906–1979 & 1904–1996 – Nils Kähler & Herman Jørgen Kähler
Nils Kähler and his brother Herman Jørgen Kähler take over the factory in 1940. It will be the last generation of the Kähler family that runs the company. Both brothers work as designers, but largely Nils takes over the artistic function and Herman J. the administrative and practical function.
In 1931, Nils replaced the workshop’s old wheel. Here he developed a passion for wheel-turning large vases. Initially just for fun, Nils starts modelling piggy banks and other animals made on the wheel. Usually it was a job for an apprentice, but the idea of animals as a collector’s item was taken seriously and put into production. These animals became some of Kähler’s most popular products. The animals allowed Nils to indulge his preference for ceramics decoration with slipped horn painting and lead glaze.
Nils Kähler had a special talent for following the design trends of the time, which is evident from his production. Even though he was very enthusiastic about old art of pottery, the production was characterised by simple designs. He made designer objects such as ashtrays, vases, jugs and lamp feet for Le Klint lamps. They were made out of stoneware, raw with no glazing, with his preferred salt glaze or the strong turquoise colour.
The era as a family-run company with the fourth generation of the Kähler family ended in 1974.