ARNE JACOBSEN

Arne Jacobsen (1902 - 71) was a prolific and versatile architect and designer. He apprenticed as a bricklayer at Denmark's School of Applied Arts from 1917 -1924. From 1924-27, studied architecture at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts and in 1930, after working for Paul Holsoe started his own practice. He was neither an intellectual nor an ideologue and had no real design philosophy. He once said, "if I have a philosophy it must be to sit at my drawing board". In the 1930s , he abandoned neo-Classicism and embraced International Modernism, as a style, not a philosophy.

He was incredibly active, gifted in landscape design, textiles and industrial design. He designed more than 100 buildings: houses, schools, city halls and corporate headquarters, many of which are still studied in architecture schools. He won the grand prize at both the Biennal de Sao Paulo, Brazil (1953) and the Milan XI Triennale of 1957 and was a leading designer of mass produced furnishings, using new industrial materials and international marketing.

He is most famous for his chairs, the "Egg" and "Swan", both designed for the SAS Hotel in Copenhagen. Influenced by Charles and Ray Eames and Alvar Aalto, he also created designs such as the "Ant" chair using one piece of molded plywood for both seat and back. Starting in the 1950s he also designed many household items such as modern "AJ" flatware for A. Michelson, and lamps for Louis Poulsen and Company. The AJ flatware was not successfully used there but did develop an international commercial market during the 1960s. First manufactured by the Danish silversmith A. Michelsen, Copenhagen, Jeweller to the Crown, it was the firm's first tableware fabricated in the modern medium of stainless steel. This design was an exercise in utter simplicity, from the tiny coffee spoon to the long salad servers, they all share the same flat, rudimentary handles which continue uninterrupted to the end of the utensils. Slight depressions form the bowls of the spoons, short prongs denote the forks and flat uniform blades signify the knives. The flatware was eventually manufactured and distributed by Georg Jensen.

The Royal Hotel 1956-61, situated in Copenhagen, is one of Arne Jacobsen«s masterpieces. He designed both the building and the furniture, lamps, fabrics, flatware, glasses, and door handles. As significant counterpoints to the stiffly upright, monumental building his easy chairs, the "Swan" and the "Egg", stand out as organic sculptures.

From jetsetmodern.com, serial-design.com and ANTIQUES an article by Wendy Moonan in The New York Times, February 22, 2001

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