Arne Jacobsen (1902–1971) was the renaissance-man of Danish
architecture and design. He mastered the whole gamut of the
profession, and whether the object in question was a high-rise
hotel, a chair or a door handle, he worked with an obvious
enthusiasm and vigour.
Jacobsen was admitted to the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in 1924 and
graduated in 1927. Soon after, in 1929, he won recognition for “The
House of the Future” project, where he, in collaboration with
Flemming Lassen, presented a daring vision, complete with helipad
on the rooftop. Arne Jacobsen is considered to be one of the most
important Scandinavian architects and designers in post-war time.
He is the legendary creator of several 20th Century furniture
icons, including e.g. The "Egg" chair, The "Swan" chair and the
"Ant" and "Seven series" chairs.
Throughout his career Jacobsen maintained a high level of
productivity. He designed a great number of single-family houses,
summerhouses, larger apartment buildings such as the Bellavista
complex, from 1934, and several public buildings, such as Søllerød
and Århus Town Halls, both completed in 1942 and the Munkegaard
School, from 1957. In 1964, St. Catherine’s College at Oxford
University was inaugurated, earning him international fame.
But Jacobsen’s finest piece of work is perhaps the Royal Hotel in
Copenhagen, completed in 1960. Here his talent was really brought
out. In everything, from the elegant curtain-wall structure; over
the furniture; the lamps; the textiles; the door handles; right
down to the cutlery in the restaurant, Jacobsen’s steady hand was
evident. Here, some of his best furniture was first introduced. The
full, sculptural shapes of “The Egg” and “The Swan”, now considered
modern furniture icons, constituted an interesting contrast to the
angular, stringent building.
Another well-known Jacobsen creation is “the Ant Chair” designed in
1951 and introduced in 1952. This elegant, stackable, three-legged
piece came about as a result of Jacobsen’s great interest in modern
materials and new production techniques. The narrow ‘waist’, which
gave the chair its name, was necessary because of Jacobsen’s wish
to keep the bent plywood seat and back in one piece. A four-legged
sister, “the 7 Chair”, designed in 1955, went on to become a major
success with more than 5 millions copies sold worldwide.
Arne Jacobsen was one of the very early modernists in Danish
architecture. He was trained in the neo classic school of the
Academy of Art in Copenhagen in the 1920′s, but was early open to
the international modern movement. His most important commission
was the SAS royal Hotel in Copenhagen from 1958, for which also
many of the mentioned furniture icons were designed. Jacobsen
designed not only the building but also the interior, right down to
the smallest details. Arne Jacobsen developed his own significant
style and worked independantly from 1930 when he opened his own
design office. He is the designer behind many modern classics
ranging from furniture and lightning to textiles and cuttlery.
The Arne Jacobsen Egg Chair was the culminations of a new technique
that Jacobsen pioneered with the Egg. Like a sculptor, Jacobsen
first sculpted the Egg out of clay in his garage so he could
perfect the shape. He then molded the Egg Chair out of a strong
foam inner shell under the upholstery. The result is a wholly
unique shape, meaning the Jacobsen Egg Chair affords privacy in
otherwise public spaces.
The Jacobsen Egg first appeared in the reception areas of the Royal
Hotel, in Copenhagen. The commission to design every element of the
hotel building as well as the furniture was Jacobsen’s grand
opportunity to put his theories of integrated design and
architecture into practice. The Egg is one of the triumphs of
Jacobsen’s total design - a sculptural contrast to the building’s
almost exclusively vertical and horizontal surfaces.