by John JervisOct 02, 2020
Best known for his Egg, Swan, Ant and Drop chairs, Danish architect Arne Jacobsen and his career went much beyond product design, as against popular belief. He not only brought architectural functionalism to the forefront through his ideas and designs, but also created several commemorative buildings and concepts to be inspired from.
Born on February 11, 1902, in Copenhagen, and having painted over his own room’s Victorian wallpaper with white paint as a child, Jacobsen was already ahead of his time. As a young architect in 1929, he won the ‘House of the Future’ award at The Building and Housing Exhibition of the Academic Architects’ Association in Forum, Copenhagen. Post this win, he set up his own office in Hellerup.
Jacobsen is extensively regarded for his simple, functional and modern design in his products, furniture and architectural lighting. He was of the opinion, like many other acclaimed architects, that proportion in design is the most fundamental thing – it is what makes a design successful and relevant. His practice of architecture and design show how well Jacobsen combined the use of different materials - sandstone, types of glass, painted metalwork and stainless steel. His work is known to have instilled a humane character to the international modern movement that is being followed till date.
Some of Jacobsen’s significant works include the Aarhus City Hall, Denmark (1942); Alléhusene housing, Copenhagen (1953); Rodorve Town Hall, Denmark (1956) and St. Catherine’s College, United Kingdom (1966) among many others. Other notable projects such as the Castrop-Rauxel in Germany (1976) and the Royal Danish Embassy in London (1977) got completed after his sudden death in 1971.
Most of his architectural works can be found in Copenhagen, Denmark, keeping his legacy alive. His other pieces are scattered over celebrated collections over the world such as The Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Design Museum in London.
Observed globally as one of the leaders of the International Modern Style, Jacobsen revolutionised the practise of 'total design' – of conceptualising and creating everything from the architecture, the fittings, curtains to the furniture as well.
As beautifully summarised by Claus Østergaard, Marketing Manager in Louis Poulsen for more than two decades, “Arne Jacobsen was a master of modernism and minimalism, and architect of the total design concept. Everything from taps, toilet brushes, towel rails and shirt drawers to glasses, mugs, vacuum flasks, ashtrays and door handles, and even keyholes – were designed down to the smallest detail. In his buildings, nothing was left to chance.” Jacobsen was one of the best designers to work for Louis Poulsen.
Jacobsen also designed the AJ table, floor and wall lamps for the SAS Royal Hotel in Copenhagen. Since then it has become a world-famous design icon and one of Jacobsen's most talked about work.