Last Word: Happy Nienkmper

In 1968, German-born Klaus Nienkmper 1 -who had arrived in Canada in 1960, at the age of 20 -established a company that introduced European-designed furniture to the Canadian market. 300 King Street East 3 in Toronto in 1968 -where it all began and where the story continues. The showroom, pictured here in the ’90s 13, remains a prime design destination.

Furnished by Nienkmper: the Ambassador Suite of the Canadian Embassy in Washington, D. C., in 1989 4, designed by Arthur Erickson; Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge in 2006 15, Pearson Airport’s Terminal 1; the under-renovation Royal Ontario Museum in 2007 27; and Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau’s office in the ’70s 30. By its 30th anniversary 5, the company was recognized internationally for producing some of the best corporate and residential furniture in the market. As its profile grew, Canadian and American designers were added to the lineup. All in the family: Klaus’s wife Beatrix 2, daughters Ottilie 6 and Rebecca 18, and son Klaus Jr. 22 Wavelength sofa 7 by Karim Rashid 29, who also designed the Kloud chair 33. Baden chair 8 by Robert Haussmann, who also designed the Unesco chair 23. Mark Mller 14 became Nienkmper’s design director in 1998. Examples of his work include the Max chair 9, Vox FlipTop Table 12, Vox table 16, now chair 17 and Vox Open Office 36. The company’s Toronto factory 10 has grown into a 120,000-square-foot state-of-the-art facility. Italian architect Mario Bellini 11 in the showroom in the ’90s. In spring 2008, a kingly Klaus relaxes in the Spirit House Chair 19, designed by architect Daniel Libeskind 34 for the Spirit House Atrium inside his addition to the Royal Ontario Museum, the Michael-Lee Chin Crystal 31. Yabaco chair 20, by Ryann Aoukar and Damien Robache.

Sculpted chair 21 by Thomas Lamb 25, who also designed the Embassy table 28. RS48 chair 24 by Richard Schultz. Absolute Nienkmper ad 26. HAB chair 32, by Brigitte Shim and Howard Sutcliffe. Versa table 35 by Yabu Pushelberg. A recent portrait of Beatrix Nienkmper 37.