In the 1950s, Arne Jacobsen designed a number of iconic pieces of furniture like the Egg, the Swan, the Drop, the Lily, the Grand Prix chair, the Airport series, the Seven chair and many more. The former has since become great international classics.
Born: 1902 in Copenhagen. Died: 1971 in Copenhagen
"If I have a philosophy, it's sitting in the drawing room" — Arne Jacobsen
Arne Emil Jacobsen grew up in a classic, Victorian-style home on Classensgade in Copenhagen. That home was full of the fashions of the time, with heavy, dark furniture, curtains, and decorative figurines. Perhaps this is why as a child, Arne Jacobsen painted the coloured wallpaper in his room white — as a contrast to his parents' overwhelming, garish tastes.
Arne Jacobsen actually wanted to become a painter. He was unusually good at drawing and portraying nature, but his father believed studying architecture would be more sensible, and so it happened. However, his painting and his talent for portraying ideas precisely on paper gave Arne Jacobsen many an opportunity to express himself through drawings and sketches.
Arne Jacobsen studied masonry in Germany, and also travelled to Italy, to study and draw. He later studied at the Academy of Art in Copenhagen from 1924 to 1927, under such figures as Kay Fisker and Kaj Gottlob.
As early as 1925, when he was still a student, he took part in L'exposition internationale des arts décoratifs ("The International Exhibition of Decorative Arts") in Paris, an event for international modern and decorative art. There, he won a silver medal for his Pariserstolen ("Parisian Chair"), already achieving recognition as a skilled designer. At the exposition, he was also deeply inspired by Le Corbusier, who later became a leading modernist architect.
After designing a number of private houses for some years, including his own house in 1929, Arne Jacobsen landed his first public project: the renewal of the beach area near Bellevue in Klampenborg. In 1935, one of his best-known buildings, Bellavista, was completed. Today, it is a hallmark of Danish modernism.
When the war began, Arne Jacobsen was working together with Erik Møller and Hans J. Wegner on the Aarhus Town Hall, but in 1943, Arne Jacobsen felt it necessary to move to Sweden due to his Jewish ancestry. He returned to Denmark in 1945
Throughout the 1950s, the popularity of the Danish modern style surged, increasing interest in Arne Jacobsen's furniture. Among others, he was inspired heavily by American duo Charles and Ray Eames. He designed Myrestolen ("The Ant Chair") in 1952, directly inspired by the Eames duo's LCM chair. Myrestolen was designed for Novo Nordisk's cafeteria, and Verner Panton would later be closely tied to the design of the chair, since he was employed at Jacobsen's studio at the time.
In the 1950s, Arne Jacobsen designed a series of iconic furniture pieces, including Ægget ("The Egg", 1958), Svanen ("The Swan", 1958), Dråben ("The Drop", 1958), Liljen ("The Lily", 1968), the Grand Prix chair (1957), the Lufthavn ("Airport", 1956) series, the Syver ("Seven", 1955) chair, and many others. The first few became, and remain, major classics. They were rather innovative at the time, as moulded veneer was a brand-new way of shaping and processing wood.
In the early 1960s, Jacobsen worked on the design for the interior of St. Catherine's College in Oxford, which became one of his magna opera. The task was challenging, since Arne Jacobsen's modernistic design language needed to fit in with the architecture from the Middle Ages that dominated Oxford. Arne Jacobsen did the job perfectly, and the Oxford furniture series remains in production even today — a series for which he was also awarded the Prince Eugen Medal.
Arne Jacobsen died suddenly in 1971, only 69 years old. He had numerous projects in progress at the time, including the town hall in Mainz, Germany; the National Bank of Denmark; and the Danish embassy in London. After his death, his studio was taken over by Hans Dissing and Otto Weitling, his loyal employees, who continued work on the incomplete projects.
Fritz Hansen's furniture factory produced virtually all of Arne Jacobsen's designs, but Jacobsen also collaborated with Rud. Rasmussen Carpenters, Louis Poulsen, Nissen & Co., R. Wengler, and Asko, a Finnish company.
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