Arne Jacobsen: Pioneering architect, designer of chairs known by one name only (“the Egg”, the “Swan” the "Ant"), faucet design innovator (yes, really), quirky nature lover, demanding boss, Danish creative visionary. Here’s the story behind Arne Jacobsen, a designer way ahead of his time.
Early life in Denmark
Born in 1902 in affluentØsterbro, Copenhagen, Arne Jacobsen was rumored to have covered his Victorian bedroom wallpaper with white paint which was unusual for the time. He showed a talent for the visual arts and subsequently enrolled to study architecture at the Copenhagen Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, where he studied under Kaare Klint (known as the founding father of the Danish Modern movement).
The young Arne was heavily influenced by Le Corbusier, having had his imagination sparked by Le Corbusier’s “Pavillon de l’Esprit Nouveau” at the Paris Exposition des Arts Décoratifs of 1925 in Paris, and later by Charles and Ray Eames.
One of his earliest was the &Tradition Bellevue Floor Lamp, 1929 - it was heavily inspired by the Bauhaus movement and is today considered to be a classic piece of Danish minimalist design.
"With its graceful lines and clean, understated silhouette, the lamp was part of a wider shift towards a new school of thought that melded sculptural simplicity with the functionalism of Bauhaus," say &Tradition.
He set up his own office in 1930 and he initially worked on designing private homes; the Bauhaus-inspired Bellavista housing complex is his most recognised, and the Søllerød Town Hall (in conjunction with Flemming Lassen). It was here that the pair designed furniture - including The Mayor Sofa, that is now made by &Tradition.
During WW2, Jewish Jacobsen was exiled to Sweden, and after the war became inspired by the work of Charles and Ray Eames. It was from this decade onwards that his furniture designs became loved (and imitated) across the world.
SAS Royal Hotel, Copenhagen
In 1956 Arne Jacobsen designed the interiors for one of his landmark projects - Copenhagen’s SAS Royal Hotel, inspired by the skyscrapers of New York. It was here that his vision created a precursor to what we now know as a design hotel, inspired by the "lever" house in new York and heavily influenced by the work of Ludwig Von Der Rohe.
In the hotel, an organic aesthetic is influenced by Jacobsen's love of natures, and in particular, young trees; evidence of his time spent as a landscaper.
The “Egg” and the “Swan” Chairs were first launched here. The Egg Chairwas (and still is) innovative - made of the same continuous shape and moulded polyurethane shell, yet functional by its economy of material, and designed to cocoon you in contrast to the open space of the hotel lobby.
The Swan Chair, originally built in the garage in his home in Klampenborg, Denmark, has been in production with Fritz Hansen since its launch. With daring curves, an instantly recognisable silhouette and organic structure, it remains one of the most iconic pieces of mid century modern design.
Who was Arne Jacobsen?
According to Fritz Hansen:
"Arne Jacobsen rarely knew where his ideas would take him. His seemingly effortless approach to design coupled with his keen sense of proportion and rare talent for form led him to create objects of lasting beauty. He worked organically, pushing the boundaries as his ideas progressed."
Described as rebellious, creative, big-hearted and a perfectionist who was demanding to work for, Arne was something of a paradox. Incredibly productive, his work ethic allowed him to constantly create.
To further immerse yourself in Arne Jacobsen's legacy to the world of modern design, check out our article 'A modern design lovers tour of Denmark' where you can find out where to learn more about his work.
Shop all products by Arne Jacobsen here.