Arne Jacobsen is best known to many by his chair designs and Louis Poulsen lamps. However, the Danish architect created not only iconic furniture and lighting but also buildings, textiles and interiors.
FIRST THERE WAS the Ant. Arne Jacobsen, who was interested in technical innovation, designed the chair in 1952. This became his breakthrough in the Fritz Hansen design house, for which he had worked since 1934.
The elegant, thin waistline of the Ant was is fact a compromise: the form-molded laminated veneer would not have bent without breaking if the piece hadn't been made slimmer. As technological advances were made, the Ant's “little brother”, Series 7, or the Seven, was born in 1955.
Arne Jacobsen was Fritz Hansen's star designer, but he also designed a wide range of other things, such as textiles, wallpapers and silver items. The Cylinda Line tableware series designed for Stelton in 1967 is an iconic classic.
But Jacobsen was first and foremost an architect. The son of a wealthy Jewish family, he first wanted to be an artist but his father managed to persuade him to study architecture. Yet art remained with him as a dear hobby alongside his career as an architect and a designer.
Arne Jacobsen was a productive architect and designer. Art remained with him as a dear hobby alongside his career.
Jacobsen's versatile designer character was crystallized in his most famous building, the SAS Royal Hotel in Copenhagen, which was completed in the late 1950s. He also designed the hotel interior right down to the furniture, lamps and cutlery.
The exterior represents a very ascetic and straightforward type of architecture, but the softly formed interior classics, such as the Egg and Swan chairs, are like from the pen of a free artist.
In the 1930s and 1940s, Jacobsen designed homes, many of which are still very popular – such as the charming row houses of Bellavista and Søholm in Klampenborg, Copenhagen. He himself lived in Søholm from 1955 until his death.
Arne Jacobsen's starting point for design was need. He said the following about the idea for the Ant: “I realized that people needed new kinds of chairs for their modern kitchens: small, light and inexpensive.”
It was, however, his smooth artistic style, that made his furniture into classics. Esthetics was everything for Jacobsen. “A pastry, too, tastes better if it looks attractive,” he once said.
Who: Arne Jacobsen (1902–1971)
• He graduated as an architect from the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in 1927.
• Designer for Fritz Hansen 1934–71.
• He designed, among others, homes and industrial building in Denmark and elsewhere in Europe from the 1930s to 1960s.
• SAS Royal Hotel (today known as Radisson Collection Hotel, Royal Copenhagen) and interior 1958–60.
• Professor of Architecture at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts 1956–65.
• Numerous international prizes, such as the Grand Prix in the Milan Triennial in 1957.
• Products designed by Jacobsen are still made by Danish design brands such as Louis Poulsen, &Tradition, Fritz Hansen and Stelton.
Designs by Arne Jacobsen
Text: Pirkko Vekkeli Photos: Manufacturers