Last week we featured Achille Castiglioni, creator of the Arco Lamp!
Copenhagen, 1902. Danish merchant Johan Jacobsen and his wife Pouline, a bank clerk, have just given birth to a son that they named Arne. The child’s restlessness and artistic prowess both flourish at the same time on his early school years, setting the stage for one of the most important legacies in Danish furniture and design.
Travelling across the world, Jacobsen would visit New York, Germany, and Italy as a student of structure, form, and beauty. He was, in many ways, a lover of the natural world, a free spirit with a particular sense of humor, always in touch with the essence of things.
Early works and artistic development
Arne graduated from the famous Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in 1927. Focusing on architectural work until the 1940s, he received a good number of awards and commendations that allowed him to take the firsts steps into his own style.
He was a very talented painter and sketch artist, and he considered the elemental shapes of nature to be the most important building blocks for human innovation.
Jacobsen was a major contributor to architectural Functionalism, a school of thought that praises function and purpose over everything else. The essence of a building or a piece of furniture will become Arne’s holy grail, permeating everything he made until his death in 1971.
Jacobsen’s most iconic designs
Around the year 1958 Jacobsen started experimenting with furniture designs that he had probably envisioned many years before. He had already created his Ant chair in 1951 as a first contact with the field of home design.
The Egg chair and Swan chair emerged from that effort as two of his most ubiquitous works, an integral part of his personal view of how things should be made and enjoyed.
The simple, yet unique Drop chair would also appear around this time, envisioned as an add-on to the work he was doing for the SAS Royal Hotel in Copenhagen.
Modeled after a drop of water, the Drop chair became a predecessor to other renditions of nature, including his outstanding Lily chair from 1968.It should be noted that Arne Jacobsen never enjoyed the term “designer.” He recognized himself as an artist, but he was an architect, first and foremost.
If we’re looking for a way to describe his work, it would maybe be more accurate to refer to him as an “architect” of furniture as well. That being said, his buildings and structures made him renowned in Scandinavia, but it was his furniture work that made him an icon across the world. Jacobsen sits at the very heart and soul of the mid-century modernist movement.