Arte Jacobsen: Architect, Furniture Designer and Creator of the Egg Chair

The Egg Chair at home in Room 606 of the SAS Royal Hotel for which Jacobsen designed everything from the building to the furniture.

Internationally known architect, developer of the Danish modern style, and furniture designer who gave the world the Egg chair, Arte Jacobsen saw proportion as a key feature of his work. “It is exactly what makes the beautiful ancient Egyptian temples…here is the basic thing,” he said in an interview shortly before his death in 1971.

Unlike many of his colleagues in the modernist movement, Jacobsen had a unique ability to interpret and apply modernist principles but also offset them with an eye towards human comfort. R. Craig Miller, author of the book Design 1935-1965, What Modern Was argues 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”.”

Nowhere was this better shown than in the SAS Royal Hotel in Copenhagen for which he designed every element of the building from its skyscraper structure down to the ceramic ashtrays sold in the souvenir shop to two celebrated 20th century chairs – the Egg and its next of kin, the Swan.

As futuristic as the Egg is, it evokes very primal feelings. One doesn’t know whether to expect Dr. Freud or Mr. Spock to be sitting there. Perhaps it’s the chair’s organic shape that has inspired others to venture forth with new interpretations of the Egg – ranging from a hanging wicker version available from Kitchen Kaboodle to artist Tal R who came up with the idea of making 50 unique patchwork Eggs.

Taking his inspiration from word “egg”, it’s shape and references to fertility, along with a fascination with Sigmund Freud, Tal R has given each Egg has its own recipe. The chairs are covered in fabrics from all over the world and individually titled with direct reference to Freud’s writings, his closest friends or his family. Thus, the Martha (Freud’s wife), the Irma (Freud’s ‘classic’ early dream analysis) and the Adler (a close friend, medical doctor and psychologist) along with 47 other Eggs have found themselves at the end of a two-year world tour.

Given the Egg’s enduring popularity, one wonders what will be added next into the scramble.

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