- Charles Eames
- Verner Panton
- Le Corbusier
- Eileen Gray
- Ludwig Mies van der Rohe
- Arne Jacobsen
- George Nelson
Arne Jacobsen is widely recognised as having been one of the most important and influential Danish designer and architects of the Twentieth Century. His innovative and beautifully proportioned designs are a combination of modernism coupled with a Scandinavian love for both practicality and naturalism.
Arne Jacobsen was born in 1902 in Copenhagen. He was a fairly unremarkable student at school and once his studies were finished he became bricklayer’s apprentice. This may appear to be a fairly humble job for a man who achieved so much, but this instilled an appreciation for raw materials that was a feature in all of Jacobsen’s work.
In 1924 he won a scholarship in architecture at Copenhagen’s Royal Academy of Art. Whilst studying at the Academy, he developed an interest in furniture design and in 1925, he won an award for chair design at a Parisien exhibition. On completion of his studies, and in common with many newly graduated designers, Jacobsen earned his living by designing bespoke houses for private individuals - before progressing onto larger Industrial projects. Even in his early work there is a strong sense of proportion, as well as an attention to detail in trying to marry the new building with its natural surroundings.
At the outbreak of the Second World War, Jabobsen (who was Jewish) felt understandably threatened by the Nazi presence in Denmark and he fled to Sweden, where he continued his career by getting a job designing wall coverings and textiles.
Once the war was over, he immediately moved back to Denmark and started to design simple, functional and easily built apartments and houses in an effort to quickly repair much of the damage caused by the German invasion. The 1950's saw Jacobsen really assert himself as a pioneering furniture designer. During this decade he produced many of his most iconic designs, including the 3 legged plywood ‘Ant chair’ as well as his more opulent and futuristic looking Swan and Egg chairs. The Swan and egg chairs were produced as part of his design commission for Copenhagen’s brand new Royal Hotel. For this project Jacobsen was given complete carte blanche, allowing him to create everything from the buildings themselves, right down to the floor coverings and even the cutlery. This allowed him to stamp his elegant functionality on every aspect of the Hotel – which was very much the way he liked to work.
Following the success and huge critical acclaim of the Royal Hotel, many other new commissions followed including the SAS Air Terminal and more controversially the redesign of St. Catherine College at Oxford University. The British Establishment were appalled at the thought of a Danish National, who spoke very little English, being given the task of designing such a quintessential symbol of England’s cultural heritage. Jacobsen, in his now typical style, immersed himself in the project and specified everything from the handles on the doors, to the breeds of fish in the ornamental pond, as well as the elegant and grand design of the buildings themselves. The result was a resounding success earing Jacobsen many plaudits. Indeed and the beautifully proportioned campus has remained largely unchanged since it was finished in 1963.
Jacobsen died in 1971, but shortly before his death he was asked by a friend what was the secret of his success – he answered simply "Proportion".