Grand Prix Chair Arne Jacobsen

Arne Jacobsen – 6 Interesting Facts

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Arne Jacobsen was a Danish architect best remembered for his ultra-modern furniture, but especially his chair designs. The Egg, the Ant, and the Swan chairs are all considered classics of twentieth century modern design. Despite this, Jacobsen hated the word “designer” and considered himself first and foremost an architect. To know more about Arne Jacobsen, read on:

1. Jacobsen was already a talented artist at a young age.

  • He originally wanted to be a painter. However, his father felt that architecture was a more practical pursuit.
  • After a masonry apprenticeship, Jacobsen was accepted to the Architecture School at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts.
Skovshoved Petrol Station Copenhagen Denmark Arne Jacobsen
The historic, still-operational Skovshoved Petrol Station in Copenhagen, Denmark designed by Arne Jacobsen

2. He studied different aspects of architecture and carpentry intensely while traveling abroad.

  • He once sailed to New York as a sailor, apprenticed himself to a bricklayer in Germany, and repeatedly traveled to Italy to paint accurate, atmospheric watercolors.
  • Though he was always looking for foreign influences, he never forgot his Danish roots.
Aarhus Town Hall 1937-42 Arne Jacobsen
In 1937-42 Jacobsen co-designed the Aarhus Town Hall with Erik Moller

3. Jacobsen won two major awards that helped start his career as an ulta-modern architect.

  • The first was a silver medal at the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes, a Paris Art Deco fair, for a chair design.
  • The second award was given by the Danish Architect’s Association, for his “House of the Future” design. The glass and concrete house was flat-roofed, spiral-shaped, had a conveyor tube for letters, windows that rolled down like those of cars, a helipad, and a boathouse.
Arne Jacobsen Ant Chair Design Museum Denmark
Arne Jacobsen’s Ant Chair now featured at the Design Museum Denmark

4. People have rioted and protested against Jacobsen’s ultra-modern buildings.

  • One example was for a 100-metre-high lookout tower for the Bellevue Sea Bath which would have been topped off by a revolving restaurant.
  • Another incident was for Gammeltorv’s Stelling House, which prompted a newspaper to print that Jacobsen should be “banned from architecture for life.”
Grand Prix Chair Arne Jacobsen
The Grand Prix Chair features the angles and curves of a race car

5. During World War II, Jacobsen was persecuted for his Jewish heritage.

  • With some assistance from the Danish resistance, Jacobsen rowed a boat to Sweden in order to escape the concentration camps.
  • He spent the next two years in Sweden designing textiles and wallpaper. He also got to design one summer house for two doctors.
Swan Chair 1958 Arne Jacobsen
The commercially-successful Swan Chair designed by Jacobsen in 1958

6. In everything he did, Jacobsen embodied the concept of Gesamtkunst, which means seeing everything as a work of art.

  • One example is for the world’s first designer hotel, the SAS Royal Hotel. Jacobsen designed everything from the employees’ uniforms to the lighting to the ash trays sold at the shop.
  • He also designed everything about St. Catherine’s College, which enabled him to try his hand even at landscaping the garden. The species of fish for the pond was also chosen by him.
Arne Jacobsen Egg Chair
Arne Jacobsen’s Egg Chair features an iconic and imposing back rest

At the time of his death, Jacobsen left behind numerous projects completed by former assistants of his. Even so, he had a productive career. Arne Jacobsen is recognized as having contributed to the Functionalism movement with his simply designed furniture and buildings.

References

FritzHansen.com
Artnet.com
Famous-Architects.org
Jacobsen-Arne.com
Britannica.com

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