man sitting on chair smoing a pipe

Arne Jacobsen: no detail overlooked

Jacobsen’s work is one of the most personal interpretations of functionalism mixed with Danish traditional aesthetic style; and this sort of fusion is a core feature of the Mid-Century Modern style. Often his deep involvement in an architectural project led him to design also the furniture pieces for its interiors like the most famous: Swan chair and sofa, the Ant chair, the Egg chair.

Bio

Arne Jacobsen is the most celebrated post-war Danish architect and designer. He was born on February 01, 1902 in Copenhagen. His father Johan was a wholesale trader in safety pins and snap fasteners. His mother Pouline was a bank teller whose hobby was floral motifs. Jacobsen first wanted to become a painter but was dissuaded by his mother who encouraged him to study architecture. In 1924, he graduated from the School of Applied Arts. In 1927, he completed his architecture studies from the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, Copenhagen. After graduating, he obtained his first job at the office of the City Architect of Copenhagen launching his own office only two years later. Arne Jacobsen left this world on March 24, 1971.

Arne Jacobsen -Swan chairs
fhwrdh from Dublin, Ireland, Royal Hotel Lobby – Arne Jacobsen -Swan chairs, CC BY 2.0

Style

Jacobsen’s work is one of the most personal and productive interpretations of functionalism. Mixing it with Danish traditional aesthetic style, he achieved to create a modern and contemporary style for furniture. He had very strong decision making skills, making it possible for him to influence not only the design of the furniture itself, but the majority of the details. Given his studies, his starting point was often the architectural project and his willingness to become involved in every aspects led him to design also the furniture and the interiors creating chairs, tables, lamps, textiles and even cutlery. Jacobsen started experimenting with the flexibility of plywood which was easy and relatively to cheap to manufacture and stack. Serving as a professor at the Royal Danish Academy for 11 years, Jacobsen influenced an entire generation of Danish designers. He received many prestigious awards both home and abroad for his designs, including C. F. Hansen Medal and the Grand Prix of Milan XI Triennale.

Arne_Jacobsen_-_Drop,_Egg_and_Swan
Arne_Jacobsen_-Drop,Egg, and Swan chairs

Masterpieces

The Egg Chair is Jacobsen’s signature piece and has become an icon in modern furniture design. This chair was commissioned for the SAS Royal Hotel in Copenhagen, Denmark in 1958. The wavelike shape of the Egg chair as well as the four-star aluminum base demonstrates Jacobsen’s ingenuity to create furniture with a simple yet elegant construction.

Arne Jacobsen Egg_chair3d
Arne Jacobsen – Carioca, Egg chair3d, CC BY-SA 3.0

Jacobsen designed the Swan Chair and the Swan Sofa as specialty pieces for lounge areas and lobby of the SAS Royal Hotel in Copenhagen in 1958. The curvy design of the chair and the sofa contains a synthetic mold, covered by a layer of foam upholstered in fabric or leather with an aluminum four-star swivel base in satin polished aluminum. This design is in continuous production by Fritz Hansen since it was introduced. It comes in a variety of upholstered colors and leather as well.

Arne Jacobsen: swan chair
Arne Jacobsen: swan chair

The Ant Chair came before the Egg and the Swan chair. It got immense popularity in no time and was actually commissioned initially for use in the cafeteria of Novo Nordisks a pharmaceutical company in the early 1950s. Known for its simplicity, this chair is formed by just two pieces: a molded material piece for the seat and back and a second piece which morphs into three legs. It still looks quite stylish in more intimate spaces such as the kitchen of a modernly decorated home. In his own words: “I based my work on a need…I found that people need a new type of chair for the small kitchen dinettes that are found in most buildings today… a little, light, inexpensive chair“.

Arne Jacobsen ant chair
Arkines, AJ 3101 Arne Jacobsen ant chair, CC BY-SA 3.0

The Oxford Chair designed in 1968 for the professors of St. Catherine’s Cathedral in the United Kingdom, the Oxford Chair has two variations, both perfectly suited for offices, board rooms or reception areas. It represents another classic Jacobsen design which couples modernity with functionality.

Republic of Fritz Hansen – Oxford Premium from Copenhagers on Vimeo.

The Series 7 Chair, also known as Model 3107, was introduced in 1955. It was consumer favorite design and was all-time best seller for Fritz Hansen. The chair is light in weight and stackable providing a wide range of uses from corporate settings to modern homes. It resembles the ant chair but with 4 legs instead of 3.

Arne Jacobsen, series 7an chair
Holger.Ellgaard, Jacobsen, series 7 chair, CC BY-SA 3.0
Arne_Jacobsen_Series_7_Helsingör
Bengt Oberger, Arne Jacobsen Series 7 Helsingör, CC BY-SA 4.0