Arne Jacobsen

Last updated
Arne Emil Jacobsen
Arne Jacobsen photo.jpg
Born(1902-02-11)11 February 1902
Died24 March 1971(1971-03-24) (aged 69)
Copenhagen, Denmark
Awards C. F. Hansen Medal (1955)
Buildings Bellevue Theatre
SAS Royal Hotel
Aarhus City Hall
St Catherine's College
Danmarks Nationalbank

Arne Emil Jacobsen, Hon. FAIA (11 February 1902 24 March 1971) was a Danish architect and designer. He is remembered for his contribution to architectural Functionalism as well as for the worldwide success he enjoyed with simple but effective chair designs.

Honorary Fellowship of the American Institute of Architects(Hon. FAIA) may be awarded to foreign architects and for non-architects who have made great contributions to the field of architecture or to the American Institute of Architects. The program was developed as the international counterpart to the AIA Fellowship program for US citizens or architects working primarily out of the US.

Architect person trained to plan and design buildings, and oversee their construction

An architect is a person who plans, designs and reviews the construction of buildings. To practice architecture means to provide services in connection with the design of buildings and the space within the site surrounding the buildings that have human occupancy or use as their principal purpose. Etymologically, architect derives from the Latin architectus, which derives from the Greek, i.e., chief builder.

Designer person who designs

A designer is a person who makes designs for objects. A fashion designer designs clothing, a web designer designs web pages and an automobile designer designs automobiles. In each case, the designer works with the help of a technician or engineer who understands deeper level concepts of manufacturing and engineering and the designer themself is largely confined to work at a surface level.



Early life and education

Arne Jacobsen was born on 11 February 1902 in Copenhagen. His father Johan was a wholesale trader in safety pins and snap fasteners. His mother Pouline was a bank teller whose hobby was painting floral motifs. [1] He first hoped to become a painter but was dissuaded by his father who encouraged him to opt instead for the more secure domain of architecture. After a spell as an apprentice mason, Jacobsen was admitted to the Architecture School at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts where from 1924 to 1927 he studied under Kay Fisker and Kaj Gottlob, both leading architects and designers. [2]

Copenhagen Capital of Denmark

Copenhagen is the capital and most populous city of Denmark. As of July 2018, the city has a population of 777,218. It forms the core of the wider urban area of Copenhagen and the Copenhagen metropolitan area. Copenhagen is situated on the eastern coast of the island of Zealand; another small portion of the city is located on Amager, and is separated from Malmö, Sweden, by the strait of Øresund. The Øresund Bridge connects the two cities by rail and road.

Safety pin pointed fastener with a locking mechanism, often used to secure clothing and cloth diapers

The safety pin is a variation of the regular pin which includes a simple spring mechanism and a clasp. The clasp serves two purposes: to form a closed loop thereby properly fastening the pin to whatever it is applied to, and to cover the end of the pin to protect the user from the sharp point.

Snap fastener

A snap fastener is a pair of interlocking discs, made out of a metal or plastic, commonly used in place of traditional buttons to fasten clothing and for similar purposes. A circular lip under one disc fits into a groove on the top of the other, holding them fast until a certain amount of force is applied. Different types of snaps can be attached to fabric or leather by riveting with a punch and die set specific to the type of rivet snaps used, sewing, or plying with special snap pliers.

Still a student, 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. On that trip, he was struck by the pioneering aesthetic of Le Corbusier's L'Esprit Nouveau pavilion. Before leaving the Academy, Jacobsen also travelled to Germany, where he became acquainted with the rationalist architecture of Mies van der Rohe and Walter Gropius. Their work influenced his early designs including his graduation project, an art gallery, which won him a gold medal. [3] After completing architecture school, he first worked at city architect Poul Holsøe's architectural practice. [4]

Art Deco Influential visual arts design style which first appeared in France during the 1920s

Art Deco, sometimes referred to as Deco, is a style of visual arts, architecture and design that first appeared in France just before World War I. Art Deco influenced the design of buildings, furniture, jewelry, fashion, cars, movie theatres, trains, ocean liners, and everyday objects such as radios and vacuum cleaners. It took its name, short for Arts Décoratifs, from the Exposition internationale des arts décoratifs et industriels modernes held in Paris in 1925. It combined modern styles with fine craftsmanship and rich materials. During its heyday, Art Deco represented luxury, glamour, exuberance, and faith in social and technological progress.

Le Corbusier Swiss-French architect, designer, urbanist, and writer

Charles-Édouard Jeanneret, known as Le Corbusier, was a Swiss-French architect, designer, painter, urban planner, writer, and one of the pioneers of what is now called modern architecture. He was born in Switzerland and became a French citizen in 1930. His career spanned five decades, and he designed buildings in Europe, Japan, India, and North and South America.

Walter Gropius German architect

Walter Adolph Georg Gropius was a German architect and founder of the Bauhaus School, who, along with Alvar Aalto, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Le Corbusier and Frank Lloyd Wright, is widely regarded as one of the pioneering masters of modernist architecture. Gropius was also a leading architect of the International Style.

In 1929, in collaboration with Flemming Lassen, he won a Danish Architect's Association competition for designing the "House of the Future" which was built full scale at the subsequent exhibition in Copenhagen's Forum. [5] It was a spiral-shaped, flat-roofed house in glass and concrete, incorporating a private garage, a boathouse and a helicopter pad. Other striking features were windows that rolled down like car windows, a conveyor tube for the mail and a kitchen stocked with ready-made meals. [6] A Dodge Cabriolet Coupé was parked in the garage, there was a Chris Craft in the boathouse and an Autogyro on the roof. [7] Jacobsen immediately became recognised as an ultra-modern architect.

Flemming Lassen Architect and designer

Flemming Lassen was a Modernist Danish architect and designer, working within the idiom of the International Style. Among his most notable buildings are libraries and cultural centres. He was the brother of Mogens Lassen, also an architect.

Forum Copenhagen

Forum Copenhagen is a large multi-purpose, rentable indoor arena located in Frederiksberg, Denmark. It hosts a large variety of concerts, markets, exhibitions and other events. The venue can hold up to 10,000 people depending on the event. The Forum operates as a convention center, concert hall and indoor arena.

Garage (residential) walled, roofed structure for storing a vehicle or vehicles that may be part of or attached to a home ("attached garage"), or a separate outbuilding or shed ("detached garage")

A residential garage is a walled, roofed structure for storing a vehicle or vehicles that may be part of or attached to a home, or a separate outbuilding or shed. Residential garages typically have space for one or two cars, although three-car garages are used. When a garage is attached to a house, the garage typically has an entry door into the house. Garages normally have a wide door which can be raised to permit the entry and exit of a vehicle, and then closed to secure the vehicle. A garage protects a vehicle from precipitation, and, if it is equipped with a locking garage door, it also protects the vehicle(s) from theft and vandalism. Garages are also used for a variety of projects including painting, woodworking and assembling of projects.

Pre-World War II career

One of Jacobsen's lifeguard towers at Bellevue Beach Life guard tower, Klampenborg.jpg
One of Jacobsen's lifeguard towers at Bellevue Beach

The year after winning the "House of the Future" award, Arne Jacobsen set up his own office. He designed the functionalist Rothenborg House, which he planned in every detail, a characteristic of many of his later works. [8]

The Rothenborg House is a private home in Klampenborg, just north of Copenhagen, designed by the Danish architect Arne Jacobsen in 1930.

Soon afterwards, he won a competition from Gentofte Municipality for the design of a seaside resort complex in Klampenborg on the Øresund coast just north of Copenhagen. The various components of the resort became his major public breakthrough in Denmark, further establishing him as a leading national proponent of the International Modern Style. In 1932, the first item, the Bellevue Sea Bath, was completed. Jacobsen designed everything from the characteristic blue-striped lifeguard towers, kiosks and changing cabins to the tickets, season cards and even the uniforms of the employees. [9] The focal point of the area was supposed to have been a lookout tower, more than a hundred metres high with a revolving restaurant at the top but it was abandoned after huge local protests. Still, it is reflected in the overall arrangement of buildings in the area which all follow lines that extend from their missing centre. In 1934, came the Bellavista residential development, built in concrete, steel and glass, with smooth surfaces and open floor planning, free of any excesses or ornaments. Completing the white trilogy in 1937, the Bellevue Theatre featured a retractable roof allowing open-air performances. [9] These early works clearly show the influence of the White Cubist architecture Jacobsen had encountered in Germany, particularly at the Weissenhof Estate in Stuttgart. The cluster of white buildings at Bellevue also includes the Skovshoved Filling Station. In their day, these projects were described as "The dream of the a modern lifestyle". [10]

Gentofte Municipality Municipality in Capital Region, Denmark

Gentofte Kommune is a municipality in the Capital Region of Denmark on the east coast of the island of Zealand (Sjælland) in eastern Denmark. It covers an area of 25.54 km2 (9.86 sq mi), and has a total population of 74,548. Since 1993, its mayor has been Hans Toft, a member of the Conservative People's Party.

Klampenborg suburb of Copenhagen in Gentofte Municipality, Denmark

Klampenborg is a northern suburb to Copenhagen, Denmark. It is located in Gentofte Municipality, directly on Øresund, between Taarbæk and Skovshoved. Like other neighbourhoods along the Øresund coast, Klampenborg is an affluent area with many large houses.

Øresund The strait between Denmark and Sweden

Øresund or Öresund, commonly known in English as the Sound, is a strait which forms the Danish–Swedish border, separating Zealand (Denmark) from Scania (Sweden). The strait has a length of 118 kilometres (73 mi) and the width varies from 4 kilometres (2.5 mi) to 28 kilometres (17 mi). It is 4 kilometres (2.5 mi) wide at its narrowest point between Helsingør in Denmark and Helsingborg in Sweden.

Arhus City Hall Arhus Radhus.jpg
Århus City Hall

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". [11]

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. [12] Still, it is considered one of his most important buildings. It consists of three offset volumes.

World War II exile and return

Soholm I terraced houses, Klampenborg Arne jacobsen, Soholm I, 1946-1950.jpg
Søholm I terraced houses, Klampenborg

During World War II, scarcity of building materials and Nazi racial laws against Jewish citizens made assignments difficult to obtain. In 1943, due to his Jewish background, Arne Jacobsen had to flee his office and go into exile to escape the Nazis' planned deportation of Jewish Danes to concentration camps. Along with other Jewish Danes and with the help of the Danish resistance, he fled Denmark, rowing a small boat across Øresund to neighboring Sweden where he would stay for the next two years. His architectural work was limited to a summer house for two doctors. [3] Instead he spent his time designing fabrics and wallpaper.

When the war ended in 1945, Jacobsen returned to Denmark and resumed his architectural career. The country was in urgent need of both housing and new public buildings but the primary need was for spartan buildings which could be built without delay.

After some years Jacobsen got his career back on track and with projects such as the Allehusene complex from 1952 and his Søholm terraced houses from 1955, he embarked on a more experimental phase. He moved into one of the Søholm houses and lived there until his death. [13]

Rodovre Town Hall central staircase Arne jacobsen, rodovre town hall, stairwell 1952-1956.jpg
Rødovre Town Hall central staircase

Rødovre Town Hall, built from 1952 to 1956, shows how well Jacobsen combined the use of different materials: sandstone, two types of glass, painted metalwork and stainless steel. It is also noted for its central staircase, suspended from the roof on orange-red steel rods. The sides are cut from 5 cm steel plate, painted a dark grey; the steps, only a few millimeters thick, are stainless steel with a rubber coating on the upper side for better grip.

The Munkegaard School consists of pavilions connected by glass corridors, arranged in a grid system around small courtyards. It received considerable attention in international school circles and contributed to his growing international reputation. [14] [15]

Large commissions

With the SAS Royal Hotel, built from 1956 to 1960, Jacobsen was given the opportunity to design what has been called "the world's first designer hotel". [16] He designed everything from the building and its furniture and fittings to the ashtrays sold in the souvenir shop and the airport buses.

St Catherine's College, Oxford, view from the west Catz Moat.jpg
St Catherine's College, Oxford, view from the west

These larger assignments started to attract attention and commissions from abroad. Rødovre Town Hall secured him an invitation for his first competition in Germany which was followed by a number of other German projects.

A delegation of Oxford dons visited the SAS Hotel and the Munkegård School in their search for an architect for St Catherine's College. They were soon convinced he was the right choice for their important commission. [3] Again Jacobsen designed everything, including the garden, down to the choice of fish species for the pond. The dining hall is notable for its Cumberland slate floor. The original college buildings received a Grade I listing on 30 March 1993. [17]

Uncompleted works

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, and in Castrop-Rauxel, 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.

Furniture and product design

Drop, Egg and Swan chairs designed by Jacobsen for use in the SAS Royal Hotel (pictured in background). Arne Jacobsen - Drop, Egg and Swan.jpg
Drop, Egg and Swan chairs designed by Jacobsen for use in the SAS Royal Hotel (pictured in background).

Today, Arne Jacobsen is remembered primarily for his furniture designs. However, he believed he was first and foremost an architect. According to Scott Poole, a professor at Virginia Tech, Arne Jacobsen never used the word 'designer', notoriously disliking it.

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 a cooperation with the furniture manufacturer Fritz Hansen with which he initiated a collaboration in 1934 while his lamps and light fixtures were developed with Louis Poulsen. In spite of his success with his chair at the Paris Exhibition in 1925, it was during the 1950s that his interest in furniture design peaked.

A major source of inspiration stemmed from the bent plywood designs of Charles and Ray Eames. He was also influenced by the Italian design historian Ernesto Rogers, who had proclaimed that the design of every element was equally important "from the spoon to the city" which harmonized well with his own ideals.

No. 7 chairs in the auditorium of the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek in Copenhagen Ny Carlsberg Glyptothek - Auditorium 2.jpg
No. 7 chairs in the auditorium of the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek in Copenhagen

In 1951, he created the Ant chair for an extension of the Novo pharmaceutical factory and, in 1955, came the Seven Series. Both matched modern needs perfectly, being light, compact and easily stackable. Two other successful chair designs, the Egg and the Swan, were created for the SAS Royal Hotel which he also designed in 1956.

Other designs were made for Stelton, a company founded by his foster son Peter Holmbl. These include the now classic Cylinda Line stainless steel cocktail kit and tableware.

Other interior design is a line of faucets and accessories for bathroom and kitchen, created after he won a competition in 1961 for his design of the National Bank of Denmark. This classic design is still in production today by Danish company Vola.

Style and legacy

According to R. Craig Miller, author of "Design 1935-1989, What Modern was", Jacobsen's work "is an important and original contribution both to modernism and to the specific place Denmark and the Scandinavian countries have in the modern movement" and continues "One might in fact argue that much of what the modern movement stands for, would have been lost and simply forgotten if Scandinavian designers and architects like Arne Jacobsen would not have added that humane element to it". [6]

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". [6]

Selected works

Allehusene housing, Gentofte, 1949-1953 Arne Jacobsen - Allehusene.jpg
Alléhusene housing, Gentofte, 1949-1953
St Catherine's College, Oxford-undergraduate rooms and bell-tower-view from west Stcatz sc10.JPG
St Catherine's College, Oxford-undergraduate rooms and bell-tower-view from west
Danish Embassy, London The Danish Embassy, London.jpg
Danish Embassy, London
Town Hall and Forum, Castrop-Rauxel, 1966-1976 Castrop-Rauxel town hall.jpg
Town Hall and Forum, Castrop-Rauxel, 1966-1976


Furniture and product design

In culture and media

There are chairs with his design at gate 56A at the San Francisco airport.

Awards and recognition

See also

Related Research Articles

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  21. Believed to have been notably successful.
  22. The dates here represent the period of construction only.
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Further reading