Arne Jacobsen, Designer And Architect
Biography of Arne Jacobsen, one of the 20th century's most prolific and influential designers and architects
It is rare when one man has the ability to dramatically alter the course of how we see style, design and functionality all at once. Arne Jacobsen was just such a man. His architecture, furniture and houseware became classic designs even within his own lifetime and have left their stamp on today’s design theory.
Jacobsen was born in 1902 and after training as a brick-layer, attended the Royal Academy in Copenhagen. From 1927-30 he worked for Paul Holsoe, but his genius could not be contained within another man’s business. The next year he opened his own company, the Design Studio, which he ran until his death in 1971. Within the auspices of the Design Studio, Arne Jacobsen created award-winning design after award-winning design in several different arenas: architecture, furniture, porcelain, houseware, and even textiles.
His commendations began as a student in 1925, when a chair that he designed won the Silver Medal at the World Exhibition in Paris. In his first year with Holsoe, Jacobsen designed his first house, which would prove to be merely the beginning of an amazing career in architecture.
Jacobsen won almost every major design award, including the Gold Medal from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts (1928), the Eckersberg Medal (1936), the Grand Prix Interantionale of the magazine L’Architecture d’Aujourdhui (1960), the Prince Eugene Medal and the Medal of Honor from the Danish Architecture Association (1962), to name just a few. He was also inducted into every major institute for architecture and design (from Europe to America) and received honorary degrees from such institutions as Oxford University in England.
Arne Jacobsen’s chief contribution to Danish design was the introduction of functionalism; and it is by this that he is known as one of the founders of the Danish School of thought. The famous Ant chair is still modeled for chairs to this day in schools, churches, community centers, and businesses. It’s convenient stacking (allowing for minimal storage requirements) combined with graceful aesthetics and comfort made it revolutionary in the design of furniture. Two of Jacobsen’s other chairs, the Egg and the Swan, have also achieved wide recognition and are still reproduced for distribution worldwide. Jacobsen’s focus on simple forms and usability cannot be overemphasized in the development of design theory.
But he did not stop simply with furniture, his Cylinda Line of cookware, flatware and serving devices also remains in manufacture. Prized for its beauty and functionality, the Cylinda Line commands top prices from some of the most prestigious distributors of houseware in America and beyond.
Jacobsen’s architectural skills were so highly valued in his lifetime that he was asked to design building for countries around the world. Among his chief works are the Munkegaards School, at Copenhagen, Denmark and the Soholm Housing Estate, at Klampenborg, Germany. For each building he designed, Jacobsen would create an interior scheme and furniture to promote a "total design" effect.
Few designers have been so closely mimicked or so highly sought after as Arne Jacobsen, even in his own lifetime. He is admired not only as a chief contributor to the Danish School of design, but to the third generation International School and the growth and development of design theory worldwide. Too bright to be held merely to one or two fields of design, Jacobsen’s influence has been felt throughout the arts and his legacy will continue to carry its timeless mark of genius and quality to fresh viewers for years to come.