Arne Jacobsen was at the centre stage of Danish architecture and design for about six decades. Working as a furniture designer, architect, landscape architect and industrial designer, his contributions to the design world remain significant even to this day. He is described as a genius whose work was always ahead of his time. He was keen on finding new solutions and incorporating them into their design to create future trends. Over the years, his name has come to epitomise the beautiful marriage of functionality and aesthetics. We take a few minutes to relive some of Jacobsen’s most significant moments in design history.
Hailing from Copenhagen, multi-faceted Arne Jacobsen was nothing short of an innovator. He was born in 1902, and his love for art became apparent right from an early age. He loved painting and sketching. However, his father seemed opposed to the idea of his son becoming an artist, something that saw Jacobsen sent to the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Art. In the 1920s. Here, he enrolled for an architectural course. It was during his time here that he first encountered the works of Walter Gropius, Le Corbusier and Mies van der Rohe all of whom inspired his early architectural work.
Jacobsen’s curiosity about the world was the major driving force behind his creativity. In the initial years of his career, he brought modernism to Denmark and shaped a Danish functionalist expression that combined new design and architectural ideas with the Danish craft. This was manifested in architectural works such as the Bellevue Theatre (1936) and House of the future (1929), amongst other works.
After the Second World War, Jacobsen established his name in Denmark and globally. This can be attributed to his big projects like the Rødovre Town Hall (1955) and Saholm (1951).
Here are some of the remarkable projects he worked on:
The SAS Royal Hotel
Arne Jensen was tasked with designing the world’s first design hotel in –the SAS Royal. The hotel was to be located in central Copenhagen and cater to wealthy travellers. Besides providing a place for weary travellers, the hotel was also supposed to be an international gateway into Scandinavia and offer a world-class experience to customers.
True to his style, Jacobsen envisioned its interior and modernist exterior. He also designed the hotel furniture, creating some of the most iconic pieces of the 20th century.
Skovshoved Petrol Station, Denmark
In 1938, Texaco–a gas company–hired Jacobsen to design a new standard of gas stations. The result was the Skovshoved petrol station, whose design inspired Jacobsen’s famous 1952 Ant chair.
St. Catherine’s College, Oxford, UK
Jacobsen was approached to design St. Catherine’s College. After almost a century, this was the University of Oxford’s first new college. The place earned a “Grade I” listing in 1993.
Town Hall Mainz, Germany
This was Arnie Jacobsen’s final project before his demise in 1971. He collaborated with his colleague Otto Weitling on this project.
The 1950s saw Jacobsen have his biggest breakthrough as a furniture designer. Here are some iconic furniture pieces from the famous furniture designer:
The Egg Chair
The AJ Egg Chair has become iconic in modern furniture design. Commissioned for the Royal Hotel in Denmark in 1958, its wavelike form reflects Jacobsen’s ability to design simple yet elegant furniture. The chair’s contours cocoon you into your space while the aluminium base allows it to recline and rotate. Today, you can find the Egg Chair in the finest lounges and lobbies, but it would also be perfect for your modern living room.
How Do You Tell an Original Egg Chair From a Fake?
A label on the chair helps you determine its legitimacy and the year it was made. Newer Egg Chair versions come with a “Republic of Fritz Hansen” label. 2006 to 2010 versions had a red tag.
The Swan Chair
The Swan Chair and sofa were also designed as speciality pieces for the Royal Hotel’s lounge and lobby areas. The chair’s characteristic 3D shape oozes technical innovation for its curvy design. Its frame comprises a synthetic mould concealed by a layer of foam upholstered in leather or fabric.
The Oxford Chair
This was part of Jacobsen’s furniture series designed for St. Catherine’s College. It echoes the modernity and functionality that is characteristic of Jacobsen’s design. Created in 1968, the Oxford Chair has two variations, both perfect for board rooms, reception areas or offices. The first version comprises a tall wood laminate back, while the second has a shallow curved seat complete with a low backseat and narrowed armrests. The Oxford Chair is lauded for its ergonomic design and sophistication.
The Ant Chair
The Ant Chair resembles an ant with a raised head. Jacobsen designed it in 1951 for a pharmaceutical company in Denmark. Original models had three plastic legs and a set made from laminated veneer, while later models included a fourth leg, all made from tubular steel.
Is the Ant Chair Comfortable?
Despite its svelte and minimalist form, the Ant Chair is very comfortable. This is because of its cocooning shell design. It has a gentle give in the seatback and a waterfall seat edge to ease the strain on the undersides of the legs.
What Are the Other Popular Furniture Pieces by Arnie Jacobsen?
Other interior pieces by Jacobsen include:
- The Dot
- Series 3300
- The Lily Chair
Experiencing Jacobsen’s Designs Today
Today, Jacobsen’s furniture designs can be spotted in public spaces and museums worldwide. You can always purchase licensed originals for your space. Besides, his masterpiece–the SAS Royal–still stands in Copenhagen, although it now goes by the name Radisson Blu.
To conclude, Arne Jacobsen put Denmark on the world map. His contributions to art, design and architecture were influential during his time and continue to impact subsequent generations. He combined functionality, aesthetics and craftsmanship to come up with ergonomic pieces. Whether in residential homes, urban spaces or workplaces, we continue to encounter his craft daily.