Arne Jacobsen – Danish Design Icon

 Arne Jacobsen (1902-1971) was one of Denmark’s most influential architects and designers. A hero to lovers of Nordic style – his Swan and Egg chairs are iconic – no visit to Copenhagen is complete without taking in some of his legacy.
Although he is known today mostly for his modernist furniture, Jacobsen actually disapproved of the term designer, considering himself an architect first and foremost. Indeed many of the furnishings that established his reputation were initially part of the overall designs of his architectural projects. He was a modernist and naturalist that prized utility.
Fastidious to the point of distraction, Jacobsen was noted for his close attention-to-detail in everything connected to a structure, from its grounds to its interior furnishings. It became a trademark, perhaps best illustrated by the SAS Hotel in Copenhagen that he designed in the late fifties, where Jacobsen assumed responsibility for everything from the striking cigar-box shape down to the ashtrays in the rooms. Like much of Jacobsen’s architectural work, the hotel was initially controversial with a public that disapproved of the stark, almost brutish geometric forms. Yet is has now become a defining landmark on the Copenhagen skyline and is considered the world’s first “designer hotel.”

SAS Hotel in Copenhagen
Reception area of the SAS Hotel designed by Jacobsen. Image courtesy of
Room 606
Room 606 at the SAS Hotel in Copenhagen. Image Courtesy of
Egg Chair
Arne Jacobsen Egg Chair in Room 606 – sublime. Image courtesy of
He had originally planned to become a painter, but switched to architecture at the suggestion of his father, who viewed it as a more secure future. Jacobsen’s artistic skill is evident though in his surviving presentation drawings. Having studied under Kay Fisker at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, Jacobsen won plaudits early in his career, and became known for his avant-garde, ultra-modernist outlook, as well as an abject refusal to compromise on quality at any step.
In 1943 Jacobsen escaped to Sweden, where he focused on wallpaper and fabrics, before returning after the war to a Denmark in urgent need of housing and new public buildings, that welcomed his Spartan, cost-effective approach. Architectural functionalism was embraced by the Danes in the sixties, and Jacobsen’s work was in great demand. Many large commissions followed, but by this stage his furniture was also meeting significant critical approval.
Having travelled extensively in his youth, whilst Jacobsen’s designs never relinquished their Danish roots, they also possessed a distinct international outlook. Perhaps his best-known work, the innovative Seven Series chair, was inspired by his American contemporaries Charles and Ray Eames and their work with plywood bent into several dimensions. It went on to sell over five million units, and become possibly the world’s most copied chair design, one of which was made notorious by Christine Keeler’s provocative pose. Like so much of Arne Jacobsen’s output, the Seven Series was notable not only for style, but functionality – lightweight, stackable and compact, a Modernist’s dream.

Keeler on Ant Chair
Famous image with Christine Keeler posing on an Ant Chair. Image courtesy of
Arne Jacobsen’s Ant, Egg and Swan chairs similarly went on to become timeless design classics, instantly recognisable by their unique silhouettes. Jacobsen also produced the Cylinda Line of tableware for Stelton, which made waves with their brushed stainless-steel finish and simplistic cylindrical outlines.

Arne Jacobsen Cylinda
Fashion designer Paul Smith has reworked a coffee pot by late Danish designer Arne Jacobsen to mark the 50th anniversary of Danish brand Stelton. Image courtesy of Dezeen

To Jacobsen, the thought of relaxation was completely alien, and several of his projects were still to be completed at the time of his death. He was known for inflicting punishing round-the-clock schedules on his team, and for his perfectionism (born from a need to test the outer reaches of his design and materials) that led to frequent delays. Yet this avuncular pipe-smoker also had a great sense of fun, as can easily be seen in the charming illuminated “mushroom” canopy of his early filling-station at Skovshoved, and the comic lifeguard towers at one of his best-remembered projects, the Bellevue Beach Complex.

Petrol Station - Arne Jacobsen
Futuristic Petrol Station designed by Arne Jacobsen. Image courtesy of –

Jacobsen designed some stunning lights, our favourites being the Bellevue light in 1929 and the AJ1 suspension light which he designed specifically for the Hotel SAS in Copenhagen.

Bellevue Floor Light
&Tradition Bellevue floor light. Image courtesy of

Arne Jacobsen to summarize was a Danish design visionary and genius. Without him today design would be different.

The Team at Cimmermann

Credits and Links:

Scandinavian Style – The Things We Love About it

Scandinavian design emerged in the 1950s in the Scandinavian countries Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland. It is a design movement characterized by simplicity, minimalism and functionality. Soft subtle colour pallettes are often favoured with oak or walnut wood finishes.

The Lunning Prize, awarded to outstanding Scandinavian designers between 1951 and 1970, was instrumental in both making Scandinavian design a recognized commodity, and in defining the profile of Scandinavian design. Since 2006, the tradition of a pan-Nordic design award has been resumed with the Forum AID Award.

The idea that beautiful and functional everyday objects should not only be affordable to the wealthy, but to all, is a core theme in the development of modernism and functionalism. This was realised in post-WWII Scandinavian design. The ideological background was the emergence of a particular Scandinavian form of social democracy in the 1950s, as well as the increased availability of new low-cost materials and methods for mass production. Scandinavian design often makes use of form-pressed wood, plastics, anodized or enamelled aluminum or pressed steel.

Some of the most influential designers in the Scandinavian Design movement included Verner Panton, Arne Jacobsen, Nils Strinning and Hans Wegner. From the modern crop of design companies Muuto and HAY lead the way with their simple and affordable furniture/lighting designs. The colour palettes that both companies use are bang on trend but at the same time timeless. The soft pinks, greens and greys mix so well with oak wood.

Muuto and HAY
Muuto and HAY furniture, pinks, greys and greens

Designed in 1949 by Nils Strinning the String shelving system sums up Scandinavian design at its best. It is modular, simple, practical, affordable and comes in a range of beautiful colours. To think a design so simple still looks as good today as the day it was designed is a testament to design genius.

String Pocket
String Pocket shelving in Ash and White

 Gubi the Danish design house offer a real mix of Scandinavian classics by the likes of Greta Grossman, particular favourite is the Grasshopper Light. The colours of the products they design are truly Scandinavian and the furniture is mainly made from Wood. The earthy tones in the image below is Scandinavian to the core and is warmed up with the luxurious Walnut chairs and table.

Gubi Ronde Light
Gubi Ronde light and dining set – lovely warm colours
&Tradition Mayor Sofa
&Tradition Mayor Sofa in a beautiful yellow tone
Scandinavian Design
Dark tones, set off by the beautiful &Tradition Ice Chandelier

 &Tradition a Danish design company are real favourites here at Cimmermann. There mix of Design Classics by the likes of Verner Panton  and more modern designs by the likes of Benjamin Hubert make for an exciting company to look out for.

Scandinavian Kitchen
Lovely Green colour and marble top in this Scandinavian Kitchen. Image courtesy of Pinterest

Scandinavian Style offers simple and classic design, hope we have inspired you to go Nordic!!!

The Team at Cimmermann

Credits and Links:


My Scandinavian Home Blogspot

Design Boom – Forum AID Award