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The Danish Furniture Designer Arne Jacobsen

Updated on September 1, 2014

Danish Architect Arne Emil Jacobsen

These days, people remember Arne Jacobsen for his design of furniture. He believed however that he was an architect first and foremost and disliked the word “designer.” His in Gesamtkunst led to product design and later in their own right, his designs became famous. Many of his designs of furniture were due to the cooperation with the manufacturers of furniture with whom he collaborated while his light fixtures and lamps were under Louis Poulsen’s development.

Danish designer and architect Arne Emil Jacobsen is remembered for his architectural Functionalism contributions and for the global success he garnered through his effective but simple designs for chairs. Born to Jewish upper class parents on the eleventh of February in 1902, he was hoping to paint but his father discouraged him and instead made him do architecture, a secure domain. After a time as a mason apprentice, he was admitted to the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts Architecture School where he studies under Kaj Gottlob and Kay Fisker both leading designers and architects. Later he joined the Paris Art Deco and for chair design won a silver medal.

In the year nineteen twenty nine along with Flemming Lassen, he won a competition at the Danish Architect Association for his design of a future house. This was built with full scale at the Copenhagen Forum exhibition. His design was a flat roofed spiral shaped boat house in concrete and glass that incorporated a helicopter pad, boathouse and private garage. There was a conveyer tube for the mail and ready made meals in the kitchen and like windows of a car, the windows of his design rolled down. In the garage was a Dodge Cabriolet Coupe, in the boathouse was a Chris Craft and on the roof was an Autogyro. Immediately, he gained recognition as an architect that was ultra-modern.

Career in Pre War

After having won the award for house of the future, he set up an office and designed the Rothenborg house. This was a functionalist house where he planned each of the details, which happens to be the characteristics of his future work. Later he won more awards and later designed the Bellevue Sea Bath. Supposedly a focal tower, this had a revolving restaurant and was more than 100 meters high. Despite a lot of opposition from the public to his style of avant-garde, he went on building one of the most historic squares in Copenhagen which was the Gammeltorv Stelling House. Although that style is modernistic, this was later seen as an example of building a setting that was historic.

World War 2

In the second World War, there were scarce materials for building plus his being Jewish was making it hard to obtain. Jacobsen abandoned his office and planned to become exiled, fleeing Denmark and rowing across the Oresund in a small boat to Sweden where he remained for twenty four months. His work as an architect was limited to a summer home for 2 physicians. At this time he spent time designing wall paper and fabric. At the end of the war he resumed his career as an architect and returned to Denmark. The country needed new public buildings and housing but the need primarily was for basic buildings that could be built immediately.

Soholm Terraced Houses

Later with projects such as the 1955 Soholm terraced houses he got his career on track once more and embarked on a phase that was more experimental. He moved into 1 of the Soholm houses and resided here until the end of his life.

Munkegaard School

These had glass corridors connecting the pavilions. These are arranged around small courtyards in a system of grids. There were a lot of attention given to this design in circles of international schools and this helped his international reputation grow.

Rodovre Town Hall

This structure reveals how Jacobsen combines the way he utilized various materials well including stainless steel, painted metalwork, 2 types of glass and sandstone. This design is also noted for its center stair case which is on steel rods that are orange rods hanging in suspension from the roof. There are five cm steel plates that the sides are cut from in dark grey paint and for better grip on the upper side there are stainless tell a few millimeters thick coated with rubber.

SAS Royal Hotel

Built from the year nineteen fifty-six to nineteen sixty, the world’s first designer hotel was designed by Jacobsen. Everything from its ashtrays, fittings and furniture as well as the building was designed by him including the airport buses and souvenir shops. This assignment led to more international attention and commissions.

Unexpected Death and Unfinished Work

When he passed away in the year nineteen seventy one unexpectedly, there were many big projects that were left unfinished. These include London’s Royal Danish Embassy, the Danish National Bank and the new Mainz Germany town hall.


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    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 4 years ago from San Francisco

      Thank you for this interesting biography.