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"Arne Jacobsen" Tag


The Seven Series Chair – much more than an icon


Thursday, January 18, 2018

What is a design icon, and how does a design become one? It is clear that the Seven Series Chair is a well known chair that you often see. It is also clear it has been a solid element in a so called good taste interior setting since it got designed in 1955. But what makes the Seven Series Chair so timeless and popular that it has stayed on the market ever since it got released?

As mentioned the Seven Series Chair got designed in 1955, three years later than its bigger brother, the Ant. Arne Jacobsen, the designer behind, was as many other designers in the 50’s experimenting with different materials to get the maximum out of its potential. Especially plywood had Jacobsen’s interest, and from that material he created a shaped bend shell resting on a fundament of thin steel legs. The shell chair was born.

 

Arne Jacobsen

The organic simple shape of the Seven Series Chair is unique. It is easily recognisable and suitable for lots of different settings which many brands during the time have made use of in various advertising campaigns. But everything has a start, and so did the Seven Series Chair.

It all started with a scandal caused by an affair, The Profumo Affair. A young, attractive woman called Christine Keeler, who was working as a topless waitress and model, had an affair with an English politician, John Profumo. But Keller didn’t only sleep with one, she had several lovers, and another of them was a Russian naval attache, Yevgeny Ivanov. When Keeler’s different affairs got revealed, Profumo was forced to stand down.

Because of the cold war, there were speculations about Keeler passing state secrets to the Soviet Union, which made the scandal even more remarkable.

But how does the scandal relate to the icon status of the Seven Series Chair? In the 60’s the famous photographer Lewis Morley shot a series of nudes of Christine Keeler. She was sitting the wrong way around on a Seven Series Chair. Ironically the chair used in the shooting showed not to be Arne Jacobsen’s famous chair but a simple copy. However, the shoot caused a boom in the sale of the original chair.

 

Christine Keeler

But simply because the chair got popular doesn’t mean that it right away became an icon. Becoming an icon demands a timeless, futuristic design that goes well in various settings, from old farmer houses to minimal modern glass buildings. An example of a design icon is Philippe Starck’s lemon squeezer, Juicy Salif. It is easily recognisable and futuristic in its shape. One can argue that the Seven Series Chair has what is needed to become an icon since it is also timeless, futuristic and classic at the same time. But the two designs don’t only share the same adjectives, they are also both exhibited in the permanent design exhibition of MOMA in New York.

 

Juicy Salif, Philippe Starck, Alessi

Another reason for the Seven Series Chair’s icon status is that the chair is associated with not only good taste but also wealth. Since the price of the chair starts around 400 euros it isn’t the cheapest chair at the market. The chair, is so to speak a symbol of good taste, wealth, and quality. It is an easy, safe choice that guarantee class and wealth.

Personally I find the Seven Series Chair interesting because of its beautiful, simple design and good quality. I believe that if you once by a good, timeless product you don’t have to replace it by time. But of course it gets replaced and ends up in another setting, in another home, once in while, and that, I think, is the most interesting. You don’t throw good design out, you sell it or give it away, and that means, that a chair as the Seven Series Chair can have a lot history.

Imagine a chair that started its life in an institution, then it continued its journey to a second hand shop, where a family bought it and had it for years. And then, when the son of the family moved out of home, he got it with him. Imagine how many different people who have sit on the chair. Imagine how many stories they have carried, and how many stories the chair now carries. That is true iconic design for me.

 

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The Egg – Perfectly Laid


Saturday, March 28, 2015

 5695915-retro-arne-jacobsen

It’s always hard describing a well known person, a song, movie image, object, etc. In my case it’s a chair. Not only any chair, but Arne Jacobsen’s famous, or should I say infamous Egg chair. So, to get the formalities over with, I will start with some less elaborate reading about Jacobsen’s history.

Arne Jacobsen (1902-1971), was a Danish architect and designer. Jacobsen graduated from the Danish Royal Academy of Architecture in 1927, where he later became professor in 1956. After graduating, Jacobsen quickly became a worldly name. He is internationally best known for his iconic chair design; Seven, the Ant, the Swan, and the Egg.

Jacobsen is one of the few who have enrolled in both design and architectural history. His breakthrough as an architect came in 1929, with the winning proposal for a competition, House of the Future. The proposal, which was realized temporarily in connection with a large housing exhibition represented the then 27- year-old Arne Jacobsen along with fellow student Flemming Lassen. As an architect, Arne Jacobsen was truly an interpreter of functionalism, with its rigid geometric lines, and white surfaces. Even though the rigidness and sharp lines remain in Jacobsen’s architecture, he breaks with it in his furniture design, especially with the Egg and the Swan. It is this integration of architecture and design, also known as Gesamtkunstwerk (total work of art, ideal work of art, universal artwork etc) that reveals Jacobsen’s best abilities.[x]

 

How can design say something about you?

 

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10 Crosby Fall 12 By Derek Lam

So what is it about that Egg, why has it won so many people over, what is so alluring, so irresistible that people are even willing to spend thousands of euros, or in other cases willing to buy fakes, just for the sake of owning a Jacobsen? Is there at all any difference between a fake and a real chair, does it even matter, and is it perhaps not about authenticity, but instead about the design, the look?

When someone says that the dog looks like its owner, is it because the owner chooses a dog that mirrors some of the owner’s properties. Here I guess we can transfer the example on our personal choices of design, because we often choose designed products from our own personality. Thus the objects we buy, become a kind of extension or doubling of ourselves. Often it happens unconsciously, but we can also choose to “brand” ourselves, that is, create a specific idea about ourselves to others, by choosing a particular clothing style, listen to a certain type of music and buy products that support the impression we want to give of ourselves.

If you invest in expensive design, and designer ”stuff”, it’s obvious you want to portray yourself in a certain way. But what about originality ? If someone chooses to invest in an original Egg chair, and bought it in good conscience, but it turns out it’s a fake, without the buyer knowing it. Would the value still remain the same because the conviction of belief still is intact ? Here I would argue that it is.

I recently read an article in the danish news paper Politiken, about a man, Henrik Buus Nielsen, who purchased two copy’s of Arne Jacobsen’s the Swan chair through the English dealer Voga.com.

I could well buy the classics in the ‘real’ issues, but ‘why pay 30,000 Kr, when you can make do with 7,000‘, he asks. And since the money still does not go to the designer, but the producers, he can not see a problem in buying replica furniture.

 I think Henrik Buus Nielsen makes a good point in the sense that the money doesn’t go to the designer, but to the producers. In this way he argues that the ”original” Egg or Swan chairs being produced today, in a way also are ”fake”!? So perhaps originality doesn’t play as big a role any more, and if so what is it about?

 

The Design

 

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My first encounter with the Egg chair, was on an eighth grade school visit to the famous Royal SAS hotel [x] in Copenhagen. I remember starring at the chair, and feeling quite apprehensive about sitting in it, it was almost to ”valuable” in a way. It reminding me of the first time a saw a baby chicken hatch. The Idea of protection, and openness at the same time, was quite intriguing. The Egg is crafted as one piece, and in doing so, it gives the impressions of shelter, it kind of holds you, almost like a hug.The form of the chair is recognizable, you have seen it before. But there is something about the shape, the eye never becomes sated by, and you constantly see new lines and new forms. I Recently went to visit the SAS hotel again [x], and it’s quite remarkable that the Egg chairs in the lobby feel ever as contemporary as they did 10 years ago. Personally one could argue that the modernist building style and architecture, hugely inspired by the functionalists, in some cases doesn’t always work in the interior design, but in this case it really does. The round curves of the chairs, oppose the straight and linear constraints of the building, which together dance quite elegantly. While I was in the lobby I began to think about Henrik Buus Nielsen, and his fake chairs, and what if these chairs in the lobby indeed also were fakes. Firstly I don’t think anyone would noticed, or ever question their authenticity, after all they are in an original Arne Jacobsen building inside and out. And honestly I don’t think it would bother me that much if they were. In this case the design overshadows the fake, or real of it all. Stores have copied quality design for ages, but I think it’s first during the last couple of years, that it has become more accepted to own or buy fake designer goods. The tendency is all but increasing. People want good design, but for a cheaper price, and like Henrik Buus Nielsen said: ‘why pay 30,000 Kr, when you can make do with 7,000.’ Originality can always be discussed to a certain extent, and probably a question that is going to be asked more and more frequently, but good design can never be discarded. For me that is the main essence with the Egg, having a design that no matter how many years go by, and how many replicas there are produced, still prevails. And that is what Arne Jacobsen’s Egg represents. It embodies all aspects and criteria of good design, a universal design, and like the hatching of an egg, Arne Jacobsen’s chair will remain, it really is perfectly laid.

‘The Mosquito’


Friday, March 27, 2015

I am sitting behind a table, in my parents house, on a familiar, comfortable chair. I am used to this seat and it has been around for as long as I can remember. My grandmother got a set of four teak wooden chairs with a matching table as a wedding gift in the late fifties.  I have seen them in two different states throughout my life. My mother was given the set when she was about twenty years old. Feeling that the natural teak wood colour was outdated and ugly she decided to paint the chairs red. The table was not present until recently.

About a year ago my mom started to regret her decision to paint the chairs, and had them brought back to their original state. After my parents moved to a new house the chairs and table were placed in their newly furnished home, where they stand in full glory. Ever since then I keep admiring them more

 

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two generations sitting at the dinner table

 

The Danish designer/architect Arne Jacobsen (1902-1971) introduced the munkegaard chair – also known as the mosquito – in 1955, in the Munkegaard school located in Gentofte, north of Copenhagen. The school is considered one of his most important architectural works, within which he designed everything from the light fixtures to the sinks [x]. The chair that belonged to it became an absolute classic. Because of the setting that the chairs were made for, the design is highly functional. They are very easy to stack, which is perfect in places where you have to deal with limited space. They are extremely durable and comfortable at the same time. The part on which your back rests follows the natural shape of your spine. The seat of the chair is made out of pressure moulded sliced veneer. The bases are made of chrome steel tubes. The thin wood is strong but flexible. If you lean backwards, the wood moves slightly with you. The chairs are more than just convenient though. The elegant objects have an inviting look. They are unique in their simplicity with an understated aesthetic quality, which makes them so brilliant. They will complement any decor or surrounding, and bring an edge to any interior. Having only been produced from 1955 until the late sixties (and for a short amount of time in the nineties), they are now back in production again. When you pay attention they appear everywhere. When I was on a holiday in Denmark, I noticed that the chair was used in many different places, from office spaces, to cafeterias, and from the fancy to the less fancy places. Everyone seems to appreciate them. See here a website made especially for the chair.

 

Munkegaard schoolThe mosquito chair

Munkegaard School                             The Mosquito Chair, Teakwood

 

Jacobsen plays an enormous part in the image we have of danish design, and maybe even design in general. Traces of his work are found worldwide, even now still, thirty years after his death. Jacobsen was a man of extraordinary vision, strong ideals and in his time was considered true avant-garde. He is not considered intellectual or analytical in a traditional sense. Jacobsen was a producer; even when he was not working he worked nonetheless. Relaxation for him meant a shift in the creative realm. His output therefore was enormous. As a designer he strongly believed in the ‘form follows function’ motto. Jacobsen was inspired by the works of Le Corbusier, Mies van der Rohe, and Walter Gropius, which is explicitly visible in his own early works. He was also inspired by the furniture of Ray and Charles Eames who worked a lot with bent plywood. Even though Jacobsen is most famous as a designer he never called himself as such, and it is said he had a strong dislike towards the word. A lot of his designs were created in the context of the architectural buildings that they would be placed in.

I see Jacobsen as a visionary, as he played a huge part in designing the environment we live our daily lives in. From architectural masterpieces to simple things we use everyday, Jacobsen surrounds us. He makes things exactly the way I like them. His designs are the perfect formula of functionality, durability, and aesthetics. They are modern simplicity: all that it needs to be and nothing more. His mosquito chair will remain a timeless object that people will appreciate for ever. As for the chairs in my parents house, they are probably not originals, since the design is one of the most copied in the world. Nonetheless I am happy that I have grown up acquainted with such a beautiful piece of design.

Gesamtkunstwerk ?


Saturday, September 28, 2013

ARNE JACOBSEN (11 February 1902 – 24 march 1971) is a danish architect and designer. He was first able working as an architect, then mostly influenced by the modernist ideas. Typically, modernists reject decorative motifs, to emphasize more on materials, pure geometrical forms, function and adaptation to the industry.
Following the modernist philosophy, Jacobsen concieved buildings such as the Stelling House on Gammeltorv (left picture), or the SAS Royal Hotel (right picture), both in Copenhaguen.

old-square-gammel-torv-gammeltorv-_-6-k-c-3-b-8benhavn_700_0 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

He went to design products because of his interest for the Gesamtkunstwerk concept. It concerned the preoccupation of building a place as a whole, every objects matter, one place (architecture, furniture’s, light…) is driven by one full concept, vision.
Jacobsen’s design products are therefore influenced by modernist ideals, but are more precisely a part of the organic modernist movement. This movement gave to Denmark and Scandinavian countries a particular place in modern design. Jacobsen played an important contribution to that.
The philosophy of organic modernism’s main concept is to emphasize on the harmony between human living and the world of nature, so that they are combined in an united, interrelated composition for a better living. Actually, it brings to modernism a humane element to its rationnalism. It’s to create clean, pure lines based on an understanding of classical furniture craftsmanship coupled with careful research into materials, proportions and the requirements of the human body.

Kokfelt House 1957 Kokfelt House

The Kokfelt House (1957) by Arne Jacobsen is a representation of what organic modernism can be in architecture.

Jacobsen uses craft and “natural” materials to build his design works. Jacobsen combines aesthetic for a better living and adaptation to industrial production (social matter); which made his works a critical and economic success in the 50’s.

The Egg

            The Egg is a chair designed in 1958 for the Radisson SAS hotel in Copenhagen. It is manufactured by Republic of Fritz Hansen.
The chair answers to the project Jacobsen was commissioned for : designing the whole hotel. He could therefore fully following his interest on the Gesamtkunstwerk concept.
The Egg is considered as a triumph concerning Jacobsen’s design : the organic form of the chair constrats with  the building’s almost exclusively vertical and horizontal surfaces. Jacobsen searched for the perfect shape by first sculpting clay in his own garage. This shape offers to the user a bit of privacy in a public space such as the hall of the hotel. It also can be used in a private place such a home to lounge. The Egg is available in a wide variety of fabric upholstery as well as leather, always combined with a star shaped base in satin polished aluminium.
By combining pure organic form, industrial adaptation, craft (strong foam inner shell underneath the upholstery technique), and conception as a part for a whole; the Egg is an excellent representation of how was design conceived in Scandinavian countries in the 50’s.

 

Interior of SAS Royal Hotel Interior of SAS Royal Hotel

        This piece shows a particular vision on human living. A better living combining functionnalism (research of materials), human proportions (requirements of the body) and aesthetic (part of a whole, pure forms). It allows the user to take distance from the flows going through public spaces or even in a private one; to find again a bit of intimacy. In a world where we are constantly solicitated, this chair offers with a cleaned form the possibility to manage to deal with those requests. That doesn’t mean to disconnect, but to get better relation to our environment.

         I wonder if the search for better living through the concept of Gesamtkunstwerk, which was the main preoccupation of Jacobsen, can be found in our daily lives. What happens to interior spaces when they are not conceived by professionals, but by individuals. Can we find the concept of Gesamtkunstwerk in vernacular spaces ? Do the objects, the planning of the space allow the user to enter one full vision of it ?

IS GESAMTKUNSTWERK UNCONSCIOUSLY PRESENT AROUND US ?


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