Denmark, 1902 - 1971
“The fundamental factor is proportion. Proportion is precisely what makes the old Greek temples beautiful...And when we look at some of the most admired buildings of the Renaissance or the Baroque, we notice that they are all well proportioned. That is the essential thing.” - Arne Jacobsen
As an architect and an industrial designer, Jacobsen always strove to achieve grace and coherence. In the process, he emerged as the single most influential Danish architect of the 20th century and the designer of such modernist classics as the Swan, Egg and Ant chairs as well as the stainless steel, abstract-shaped cutlery which the director Stanley Kubrick chose as futuristic props for his film, 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Born in Copenhagen in 1902, Arne Jacobsen studied architecture at the Royal Academy of the Arts. As a student, Jacobsen travelled to Paris for the groundbreaking 1925 Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs, where he won a silver medal for a chair design. Architectural commissions dwindled during World War II and being Jewish, Jacobsen was threatened by the Nazi occupation of Denmark. In 1943, he left Denmark for two years of wartime exile in Sweden, where he was inspired by Scandinavia’s rich cultural heritage and natural beauty. When he returned to Denmark in 1945, the country urgently needed new housing and public buildings. Jacobsen’s late 1940s houses and apartment blocks were fairly spartan in design and intended to be built at speed.
During the 1950s, Jacobsen became increasingly interested in product design inspired by the work of the US furniture designers, Charles and Ray Eames. In 1951, Jacobsen completed work on the Ant Chair, an intricately molded plywood seat on three thin steel legs. This was followed by the simpler hourglass form of the 1955 Model 3107 - Series 7 Chair. Like the Ant, the Series 7 was perfect for modern living being light, compact and easily stackable. In 1957 Jacobsen also created another pair of classic 20th century chairs, the Swan and the Egg, with organically shaped upholstered seats on slender metal bases.
Jacobsen was responsible for another 20th century classic, the Cylinda Line stainless steel cocktail kit and tableware, which he designed, in the late 1960s for Stelton.