Over the years, he's become known as the grandfather of modern Danish design. His diverse oeuvre is peppered with classics like the Egg, Swan and Drop Chairs, and even the world's first design hotel. We take a moment to relive some of Arne Jacobsen's most significant moments in design history.
Arne Jacobson demonstrates his seminal Egg Chair.
The Boy from Copenhagen
Artist, sculptor, architect and designer, Arne Jacobsen was nothing if not an innovator. Born in Copenhagen in 1902, his interest in art was apparent from a very early age. He sketched and painted his way through boarding school and reportedly even painted over his bedroom wallpaper when he was just a child.
In the mid-1920s he enrolled at the prestigious Royal Danish Academy of Fine Art, where he studied architecture. It was during his time here that he first became aware of the work of Le Corbusier, Mies van der Rohe and Walter Gropius, all of whom influenced his early architectural work.
Following the completion of various architectural commissions, and a stint designing decorative fabric and wallpaper, he dipped his toe into the realm of furniture design and never looked back.
One of his first designs was the three-legged Ant Chair, which proved wildly popular. This was quickly succeeded by the Series 7 in 1955 – Fritz Hansen's most successful chair to date – and the Grand Prix in 1957.
Then, at the peak of his career, Jacobsen was given his largest and most challenging brief yet – the creation of the SAS Royal.
The SAS Royal Hotel
In an age of concept hotels and boutique guest houses, it can be hard to imagine a time without designer digs. Yet this was precisely the situation Jacobsen found himself in when tasked with building the SAS Royal, the world's first design hotel.
Briefed by the Scandinavian airline company SAS, Jacobsen was to construct a hotel in central Copenhagen that would cater to an emerging class of wealthy travellers. Not only a place for tired globetrotters to rest their heads, this was to be an international gateway into Scandinavia and provide a world-class experience for anyone passing through its doors. Jacobsen, as a well-established architect and designer, and Copenhagen native, was the only man for the job.
In true Jacobsen style, every aspect of the SAS Royal was designed by him. He envisioned its modernist exterior – two perpendicular rectangular glass boxes – and its interior too, overseeing everything from the flooring and lighting down to the cutlery and ashtrays.
Jacobsen's influence touches every aspect of the SAS Royal.
He also designed furniture especially for the hotel and, in doing so, created some of the most important furniture designs of the 20th century.
The Egg Chair
The phrase 'design classic' is certainly one that gets overused, but Jacobsen's ground-breaking Egg Chair is more than worthy of the title.
Designed in 1958 for the lobby of the SAS hotel, it has become one of the most instantly recognised lounge chairs in the world.
It features a beautifully organic frame that Jacobsen sculpted out of clay in his garage at home, ensuring he got its curved shape and generous proportions just right.
It can now be found in art galleries, bars and restaurants around the world, as well as in design-conscious homes.
Discover in-depth the history and craftsmanship of this forever design in our latest article "The Egg Chair: A Classic is Born".
The Swan Chair
Like the Egg, Jacobsen's Swan Chair was also designed specifically for the SAS Royal.
Its creation marked a kind of landmark in the history of furniture design as, for the first time, he'd produced a chair made up solely of curves – without any straight lines.
The chair was designed with comfort in mind. The high armrests were designed to wrap around its sitter, while the unusually deep seat meant it could be sat in for hours – something it still delivers on to this day.
Each Swan Chair is handmade by skilled craftspeople, resulting in a beautifully finished article.
The Drop Chair
As well as his more flamboyant chair designs, Jacobsen also created simpler furniture pieces, and one of the more significant – and loved – of these was the Drop.
It may have been created to complement the Egg and Swan, but it has become somewhat of an icon in itself.
The simple, teardrop-shaped frame belies a sophisticated and considered construction that's not only beautiful to look at but one that's incredibly versatile and practical too.
The Drop Chair is an elegant, practical piece, as relevant now as it was during conception.
Experiencing Jacobsen's Designs Today
You can see Jacobsen's furniture designs in museums and public spaces the world over, and, of course, buy licenced originals to enjoy at home. We sell a broad range of his iconic designs including the Egg, Swan and Drop, his AJ lighting series and more.
You can also stay at his masterpiece, the SAS Royal, which still stands in its original location in Copenhagen, albeit under the name Radisson Blu. It's currently undergoing a refurbishment, but one room is staying exactly how it was when it was unveiled in 1960 – just as Jacobsen intended.
The infamous Room 606. Furnished as Jacobson intended. Image 1.