Arne Jacobsen, Danish design in Copenhagen

Arne Jacobsen - world-renowned designer and architect

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Worldwide, Arne Jacobsen is recognised as one of the most admired and outstanding designers. His creations of some of the 20th century’s most iconic classics are to this day still as functional and timeless in their design as they were 50 years ago.

Arne Jacobsen (1920-1971) was one of the front figures of the Danish New Modern design movement. And even when he did not work, he worked nonetheless. To him, relaxation did not mean to stop, but instead changing to another creative project. Every move in creating one of his designs and architectural masterpieces was considered carefully, and not a single detail was too insignificant to him. This might be why his designs are still present today, expressing the same elegance as ever before.

His style was Modernist architecture; an inspiration that came from his travelling to Germany during his studies. Graduating from the Royal Academy in Copenhagen, he received the gold medal of honour - one of many distinctions that Jacobsen, in his indefatigable quest for excellence, would garner during his lifetime. These distinctions were well-deserved, as he not only mastered large, complex building projects, but also excelled in furniture- lamp- and cutlery design.

Bellevue beach by Arne Jacobsen. Photo Ty Stange

Photo: Ty Stange

Architectural gems all over Copenhagen

During the postwar era, he became one of the leading architects of Denmark, but many years before that, he underlined how brilliant his work was.

Through his design of the resort complex, Bella vista, for Gentofte Municipality, he made his major public breakthrough in Denmark, which also established him as a leading national proponent of the international modern style. After this, he designed Bellevue Theatre and of course Bellevue Sea Bath, where you can find the characteristic blue-striped lifeguard towers.

But it is not only in the north of Zealand, his architectural masterpieces keeps shining. In Copenhagen, you will find two pieces of his, which are very important to the Copenhagen scenery. For one, he is the mastermind behind the Danmarks Nationalbank (National Bank of Denmark), although he did not live to see it through.

Read our guide to top 10 architecture

Another is located right across from Tivoli Gardens: the Radisson Blu Royal Hotel, former named SAS Royal Hotel. Here his amazing ability to create functional and simple classics is displayed, as he designed every last piece of the hotel, whether it was the building, the furniture, door knobs, or even the cutlery. Today, this piece of art is acknowledged as the world's first design hotel. Unfortunately, most interior has been replaced today. Only room 606 is kept in his originally design.

His furniture designs

Even though Arne Jacobsen first and foremost saw himself as an architect, he might be most acknowledged for his furniture design. Especially his chair designs, which are simple yet effective in function, are iconic and well known by Danes as well as the rest of the world. Eg. the famous one-piece ant chair.  

Arne Jacobsen chairs. Photo Ditte Isager / Fritz Hansen

Photo: Ditte Isager / Fritz Hansen

For the Radisson Blu Royal Hotel, he designed multiple pieces of furniture, most of which are his most known work. For example, he designed the elegant and timeless classics of the Egg, but also the Swan, the Swan sofa and the series 3300 were made specifically for the hotel. 

Read our guide to top 10 Danish design

These designs are characteristics for Jacobsen's design identity, but it was as early as 1952, he had his breakthrough with the Ant chair, which he designed for Novo Nordisk, an international Danish healthcare company. Even though Fritz Hansen was not convinced of the chairs potential, it somehow ended becoming more than just another prototype - luckily. Succeeding the Ant, came the Series 7, which are a further development of the Ant. In 2015, the Series 7 turned 60 years and is, by far, the most sold chair at Fritz Hansen.

Obviously, Arne Jacobsen's legacy lives on, even though being dead for more than 30 years

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