Arne Jacobsen

1902 - 1971

Arne Jacobsen

Arne Jacobsen was the renaissance-man of Danish architecture and design. He mastered the whole gamut of the profession. Whether the object in question was a high-rise hotel, a chair or a door handle, he worked with an obvious enthusiasm and vigour.

Jacobsen was admitted to the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in 1924 and graduated in 1927. In 1929 he won recognition for The House of the Future project, where he, in collaboration with Flemming Lassen, presented a daring vision complete with helipad on the rooftop.

One of Jacobsen's greatest achievements was the Royal Hotel in Copenhagen, completed in 1960. It was undoubtedly one of the world's finest examples of total environments. In everything from the elegant curtain-wall structure over the furniture, the lighting, the textiles, the door handles and down to the cutlery in the restaurant, Jacobsen's creative talent was evident. Here some of his finest pieces of furniture were first introduced. The full bodied sculptural shapes of The Egg and The Swan, chairs that are now considered modern furniture icons, constituted an interesting contrast to the angular, stringent building.

Another well-known Jacobsen creation is The Ant chair designed in 1951 and introduced in 1952. This elegant stackable three-legged piece came about as a result of Jacobsen's great interest in modern materials and new production techniques. The narrow 'waist', which gave the chair its name, was necessary because of Jacobsen's wish to keep the bent plywood seat and back in one piece. A four-legged sister, the chair model 3107 designed in 1955, went on to become a major success with more than 5 millions copies sold worldwide.

Throughout his career Arne Jacobsen maintained a high level of productivity. He designed a great number of single-family houses, summerhouses, larger apartment buildings such as the Bellavista complex (1934), and several public buildings, such as Søllerød and Århus Town Halls (1942) and Munkegaard Elementary School (1942). In 1964 St. Catherine's College at Oxford University was inaugurated, earning him international fame.