Arne Jacobsen, Sculpting Design with Nordic Modernism


Arne Jacobsen was born in Copenhagen in 1902, and studied initially as a mason through the technical school there, later following up with an exploration into architecture at the Royal Danish Academy of Arts. Jacobsen opened his first architectural office in 1930, where he proceeded to develop some of his most innovative and influential elements of Mid-Century modern design. With a deep understanding of architectural sculpture, Arne Jacobsen progressed into the field of furniture design in the form of pieces such as the Egg and the Swan. When the 1960s arrived, the most important work that Jacobsen produced was a unified interior design and architectural scheme for St. Catherine’s college, which involved the creation of site-specific furniture, allowing him to combine two distinct understandings into a visual masterpiece.

 

Arne Jacobsen
Arne Jacobsen

Today, Jacobsen’s work remains stunning and appealing, highlighting his impeccable ability to seamlessly blend free-form shapes and curves with the ingrained traditional aspects of Nordic material, design, and integrity.

 

Arne Jacobsen Egg Chair and Ottoman

Egg Chair and Ottoman

When Arne Jacobson designed, he did so under the belief that form follows function. Nowhere is that concept more apparent than in the carefully sculpted Egg chair, a piece created to anticipate the curves and comfort of the human body. With this chair, Arne began to embrace exciting new materials which gave him greater access to shape single-piece molded shells and fluid curves. At a time where other designers experimented with tubes of bent steel, Jacobson explored the mediums of a modern armchair solution.

Designed originally for the SAS Royal Hotel, the Egg chair was created in direct contrast to the harsh vertical lines of the hotel lobby. The organic, sculptural shape of the furniture established a huge impact, and the all-encompassing nature of the chair gives the sitter a sensation of privacy and comfort.

 

Arne Jacobsen Swan Chair

Swan Chair

Before the Swan chair emerged into reality in 1958, many of the designs developed by Arne Jacobson had been shaped according to an assumption of natural resistance within certain materials. In simpler terms, he believed he could only push materials so far into creating the structures he imagined. However, as newer technologies continued to emerge, the old rules became less applicable, and Arne gained the ability to shape smooth, fluid curves and singular molded shells. Also designed for the SAS Royal hotel, the chair provided a swivel base that allowed people to actively engage in social conversations, or access a sense of privacy.

Today, the Swan Chair is often developed using polyurethane foam, but at the original time, Jacobsen used Styropore to encompass that continuous, flowing shape. The Swan was innovative as a chair, rejecting straight lines in preference of sensual curves.

 

Arne Jacobsen Swan Lovseat

Swan Loveseat

The Swan loveseat, or sofa, was designed as the ideal accompaniment to the Swan chair for residential or commercial interiors in need of an ultra-modern, tailored look. Designed using the same sweeping curves, the Swan loveseat simply takes the notion of the Swan chair and extends it further.

 

Arne Jacobsen Series 7 Chair and Stool

Series 7 Chair and Bar Stool

Put forth into the market in 1955, the Series 7 chair quickly emerged as an unbreakable icon of the twentieth century, and Mid-Century modern furniture design. The appreciation and long-lasting popularity that the chair quickly garnered is credited to the visionary scope of Jacobson’s design, which effortlessly combined comfort, style and function into the perfect furniture form. The versatility of the chair style itself means that it has been embraced in various different scenarios, from home seating to office settings.

At this point, the Series 7 chair is, by a large margin, one of the most excessively sold chairs in the history of Fritz Hansen furniture, and indeed in the history of furniture as a whole.

As a multipurpose range of chairs and stools, the Series 7 became the flagship of Fritz Hansen’s collection. What helped it to stand out from the crowd was the fact that the furniture had been designed deliberately in consideration of the human body. Rather than ignoring comfort and function in favor of style, Jacobson combined both, using a sleek silhouette, the necessary material to provide enough “give” and a waterfall seat edge that doesn’t irritate the legs. The lamination process used to create the Series 7, coupled with the qualities that exist within the wood of the chair itself mean that the piece is flexible enough to adjust to the movements and contours of the body.

The Impact of Arne Jacobson on the World Today

If you were establishing a list of some of the most influential characters within Mid-Century Modern Design, that list could not avoid the use of Arne Jacobson’s name. One of the most influential designers and architects in Demark, Arne used a provocative blend of sculptural grace and functional integrity to ensure that his influence as a design genius spread far and wide – becoming synonymous with the concept of modern and Scandinavian design.

The creations that Jacobson developed were recognized as a perfect example of what would be called “Danish Modern” style. Though he initially started his career with a focus on architecture – designing private homes, he noted his admiration of various modern designers, including Le Corbusier and Mies van der Rohe – commending their simplicity and rationality.

In 1958, Jacobson received a commission to design a new building for the Oxford University College. As part of that work he devoted himself to studying every detail of the design, even the most minute, believing that each and every element of design had to be harmonious to achieve success. That idea of consistency spread all the way from the shade of paint that was used in the lobby of a building, to the doorknobs. He focused on ways that his furniture could compliment the architectural style of a building through bold, contrasting design.

Arne Jacobson enjoyed a thriving and successful career, and continues to be a dominant figure in Danish architecture, while making his mark as a product designer and modern furniture designer across the globe.