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Om Namah Shivaya

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Aug 8, 2010

DESIGN STREET: The swan song of a modernist



Arne Jacobsen (1902 – 1971)  
My exposure to Arne Jacobsen was first with his products and slowly I came to realise the iconic nature of those amazing products, through my interaction with owners of the beautiful products as for the company that I was working with were the sole sellers of Republic of Fritz Hensen products. But before I introduce you to the product let me give you a brief of the amazing creative personality that Arne Jacobsen was.

Born on February 11th Feb 1902 in Copenhagen, Arne Jacobsen was one of Denmark's most prolific and influential designers and architects. His unusual approach to design helped him to produce prototypes and products whose simple, uncluttered lines and ergonomic design have made them enduring classics. An accomplished architect who made his mark on the Danish cityscape with his apartment blocks, houses, town halls and factories, he is perhaps best known for his almost obsessive attention to detail. For the Royal SAS Hotel in Copenhagen (1958-60) he designed not only the building but also the door handles, taps, cutlery and furnishings, and it was for this project that his celebrated 'Swan' and 'Egg' chairs were first produced.
Arne Jacobsen wanted to be a painter in his childhood but was encouraged by his parents to become an architect. Jacobsen ended up studying architecture from Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts  from 1924-1927. In 1925 Jacobsen participated in the Paris Art Deco fair, Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes, where he won a silver medal for a chair design. His early graduation project – an art gallery, won him a gold medal.
Despite considerable public opposition to his avant-garde style, Jacobsen went on to build Stelling House on Gammeltorv, one of Copenhagen's most historic squares. Although the modernistic style is rather restrained and was later seen as a model example of building in a historic setting, it caused virulent protests in its day. One newspaper wrote that Jacobsen ought to be "banned from architecture for life"
When, together with Erik Møller, he won a competition for the design of Århus City Hall it was with yet another controversial design. It was deemed too modern and too anti-monumental. In the end Jacobsen had to add a tower as well as marble cladding. Still, it is considered one of his most important buildings. It consists of three offset volumes.
During World War II, due to his Jewish background, Arne Jacobsen had to abandon his office and go into exile to escape planned deportation. He fled Denmark, rowing a small boat across Øresund to neighbouring Sweden where he would stay for the next two years.
When Arne Jacobsen died unexpectedly in 1971, he had a number of large projects under way. These included a new town hall in Mainz, Germany, the Danish National Bank and the Royal Danish Embassy in London. These projects were completed by Dissing + Weitling, a firm set up by his former key employees Hans Dissing and Otto Weitling.

Today, Arne Jacobsen is remembered primarily for his furniture designs. His way into product design came through his interest in Gesamtkunst and most of his designs which later became famous in their own right were created for architectural projects. Most of his furniture designs were the result of cooperation with the furniture manufacturer with which he initiated collaboration in 1934 while his lamps and light fixtures were developed with Louis Poulsen. A major source of inspiration stemmed from the bent plywood designs of Charles and Ray Eames.
Arne Jacobsen is noted for his sense of proportion. Indeed, he himself saw this as one of the main features of his work. In an interview he said; "The proportion is exactly what makes the beautiful ancient Egyptian temples and if we look at some of the most admired buildings of the Renaissance and Baroque, we notice that they were all well-proportioned. Here is the basic thing"
Ant Chair
Initially, Arne Jacobsen designed the Ant™ for the canteen at Novo Nordisk, an international Danish healthcare company. Today, the Ant is one of the prominent icons of the collection. Originally, the Ant was, however, close to ending up as just another prototype, because Fritz Hansen was not convinced of the chair’s potential.
"I based my work on a need: what chairs are needed? I found that people needed a new type of chair for the small kitchen dinettes that are found in most new building today, a little, light, and inexpensive chair. At the same time, I made one that can also be used in lunchrooms, as a stacking chair. It can be stacked by inserting the chairs into one another, consequently saving both time and energy."
THE EGG – 1958
Arne Jacobsen designed the Egg™ for the lobby and reception areas in the Royal Hotel, in Copenhagen. The commission to design every element of the hotel building as well as the furniture was Jacobsen’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 building’s almost exclusively vertical and horizontal surfaces. The Egg sprang from a new technique, which Jacobsen was the first to use; a strong foam inner shell underneath the upholstery. Like a sculptor, Jacobsen strove to find the shell’s perfect shape in clay at home in his own garage. Because of the unique shape, the Egg guarantees a bit of privacy in otherwise public spaces and the Egg – with or without footstool – is ideal for lounge and waiting areas as well as the home.
SWAN – 1958

Arne Jacobsen designed The Swan™ as well as the Egg™ for the lobby and lounge areas at the Royal Hotel in Copenhagen, in 1958. The commission to design every element of the hotel building as well as the furniture was Jacobsen’s grand opportunity to put his theories of integrated design and architecture into practice. In 1958 the Swan was a technologically innovative chair: No straight lines - only curves. A moulded shell of synthetic material on an aluminium star swivel base, with a layer of cold foam covering the shell upholstered in fabric or leather. These two original designer chairs originated in Jacobsen’s own garage in his home in Klampenborg, north of Copenhagen and have been in production at Fritz Hansen ever since. 


Some of the pictures about the beauty of the product.
EGG Chair

Swan Chairs
Haworth Office display in Shanghai of EGG and SWAN Chairs

Ant Chairs



Chennai Haworth Team with Frank (Head of AP) in EGG Chair


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