Senin, 07 Juni 2010

Arne Jacobsen

I was thinking about great chair designs the other day, and realised that while many classics were designed by famous chair designers - Robin Day in this country, Charles and Ray Eames in America, many other famous chair designs were by architects, notably of the Bauhaus school - La Corbusier and Mies Van der Rohe for instance. I thought I'd explore the art of chair design over a number of postings starting here with (and continuing the Danish theme) the Danish architect and product designer Arne Jacobsen (1902-1971).
As an architect and an industrial designer, Jacobsen always strove to achieve grace and coherence. In the process, he emerged as the single most influential Danish architect of the 20th century and the designer of such modernist classics as the Swan, Egg and Ant Chairs as well as the stainless steel, abstract-shaped cutlery which the director Stanley Kubrick chose as timelessly futuristic props for his film, 2001: A Space Odyssey. Jacobsen's buildings are iconic in themselves. Here are a couple I really admire:
Aarhus Town Hall 1937-1942:

Texaco gas station 1937:

From the 1950s onwards Jacobsen, or "the fat man" as he was called, was the dominant figure in Danish architecture, but outside Denmark he made his mark as a furniture and product designer. In 1956 Arne Jacobsen was given the task of creating a high-rise building for the airline company SAS. Placed in the centre of Copenhagen, it was to contain an airport terminal as well as a hotel. The building was divided into two sections, - a low horizontal base, containing the lobby, airport terminal, restaurant and bar and a high-rise containing the hotel rooms.
Room at the Royal Hotel with 'Egg' chairs:

With the Royal Hotel, Arne Jacobsen created a ‘total environment’. Besides the building, he designed the furniture, lamps, textiles, wall panels, tableware, door handles, - everything, right down to the little ball at the end of the pull of the roller blinds! The furniture was an absolute ‘tour de force’. Modern furniture icons such as “the Egg”, “the Swan”, “the Drop”, was first presented here, and their full, sculptural shapes constituted an interesting contrast to the angular, stringent building. A number of pieces was subsequently put into general production, but a large portion were only produced for the hotel, for which reason they remain very rare.
The 'Swan' chair:

The 'Drop' chair:

The stackable and ubiquitous 'Ant' chair beloved of cafés and restaurants around the world:

An office setting with Arne Jacobsen furniture:

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