The giant of 1950s Scandinavian design

November 5, 2023

Arne Jacobsen - The giant of 1950s Scandinavian design


Arne Jacobsen's Ant and Egg chairs stand as monumental figures in modern design, showcasing the essence of Scandinavian craftsmanship. Over seven decades, these designs have resonated with architects and enthusiasts. Delve into the captivating narrative and lasting impact of Jacobsen's masterpieces.


The three-legged Ant chair and the swivel-based Egg lounge chair need no introduction.  Their creator, the Danish architect Arne Jacobsen’s (1902–1971) significance for the internationally acclaimed Scandinavian Design is undisputed. 


It´s amazing how two chairs can symbolize one of the most extensive periods in modern design history. For 70 years they have inspired generations of architects as well as customers around the world, and they still do!


The Ant Chair was designed in 1952, originally aimed for a canteen at the Danish healthcare company Novo Nordisk. The designer’s vision of a simple, lightweight, and stackable chair with strong character where nothing needs to be added or removed was fulfilled. However, the three-legged construction collided to some extent with the user’s need for lateral stability. Accidents were inevitable and later a four-legged and more stable version was launched. According to the legend, this alteration was partly against the will of the designer.


Three years later Jacobsen created the No.7 chair which instantly became a great sales success. During the 1950s, 60s, and 70s Jacobsen designed around 10 different chair models based on the original shell configuration. Nevertheless, the Ant- and the No.7 chairs are still the most famous of his chairs.  

 

Arne Jacobsen’s Egg lounge chair was designed for the lobby and reception areas of the SAS Royal Hotel Copenhagen in 1958. The commission to design every element of the hotel building, including the furniture, was the designer’s grand opportunity to put his theories of integrated design and architecture into practice. 


The Egg is one of the triumphs of Jacobsen’s total design – a sculptural contrast to the hotel building’s almost exclusively vertical and horizontal architecture. The development of the Egg’s construction was based on a new production technique, which Arne Jacobsen pioneered: a hard foam shell beneath a medium soft upholstery. There was neither a wooden framework nor steel springs needed. Like a sculptor, Arne Jacobsen strived to find the shell’s perfect shape by experimenting with clay in his own garage. The result was to become one of the most iconic and admired chairs of the modern interior world. 60 years after passed away Jacobsen’s personal style continues to inspire new generations of architects and designers.

Designer of the month
Karl-Erik Ekselius

Karl-Erik Ekselius got his breakthrough as a furniture designer at the H55 Exhibition in Helsingborg in 1955 with pieces made by his family company J.O. Carlsson Möbelindustri (later JOC). Ekselius also designed the interiors for the Columbia University in New York.

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