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Arne Jacobsen

June 22, 2013

Arne Jacobsen

An ant marked the breakthrough of important Danish modern architect and designer Arne Jacobsen’s furniture design career- an Ant Chair (1955; Ann Chair), that is. It was originally designed for the canteen of pharmaceutical firm Novo Nordisk and is a study in minimalism. It has a compact one piece seat and back made of laminated molded veneer and is stackable. It was not very popular right off the bat, presumably due to its slightly unconventional looks.

Jacobsen had trained as an apprentice bricklayer before pursuing his architectural studies and this had instilled a sense of materials in him as well as the belief that good mass-produced furniture should possess a handcrafted quality to them.

His Series 7 Chair (1955; Sven Chair) further developed on the Ant form and is probably the best-selling chair in furniture history, with a simple, curvaceous form from molded plywood. Its sales were propelled further when former English model Christine Keeler posed nude for a photograph by Lewis Morley in a chair patterned after the Series 7. 

The egg and swan chairs were conceived for the lounge and private suites of Copenhagen’s SAS Royal Hotel which Jacobsen designed in 1958. The hotel was the city’s first skyscraper. 

As such, his Egg Chair (1958; Hatch Lounge Chair) was distinctively modernist and very exclusive when launched, partly due to its difficulty in production and state-of-the-art materials used. It looked like a very mod version of a Georgian wing chair- one that also resembled a broken eggshell. The egg chair is moulded to the curves of the human body. It could also be tilted back for more comfort and possesses what was at the time a novelty swivel function. It enjoyed a lot of air time over the years, such as in Kubrick’s film A Space Odyssey and on popular television series Ugly Betty. Ringo Starr of the phenomenal English rock band the Beatles had it in his room in their house in the 1965 film Help!


The Swan Chair (1958; Saen Lounge Chair) was also unique when it came out in that it boasted only curves, no straight lines. Its low-slung look complemented the more upright (and hence, formal) look of the egg chair. Their sculptural forms given shape by fibreglass frames covered by pliable foam were effected by new technologies that made it possible for a single-mould form.

A single room, Room 606, is the only surviving piece of the interior of the SAS, having been preserved as a time capsule. The room is a microcosm of Jacobsen's definitive designs.

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