Design legend: Arne Jacobsen, the iconic furniture designer

Posted on Mar 17, 2014 in Discover | No Comments
Design legend: Arne Jacobsen, the iconic furniture designer

The Ant, the Egg, and the Swan may sound like the title of a Danish fairy tale – and in a sense they are. They are the creations of one of the most iconic furniture designers of the 20th century, the great Dane Arne Jacobsen. Born in 1902 in Copenhagen, he would become an influential designer by the middle of the century.

Although he was in fact, an architect, Arne’s fame now rests, quite literally, on his chairs.

These designs have become so recognizable today, that it is hard to remember that they weren’t always around.

Image: Swan chairs group

swan chairs group

[Photo credit: Wikimedia commons fhwrdh ]

Most of his chairs were manufactured by Fritz Hansen, a well-known Danish furniture design company.

While still a student, Arne won a silver medal for chair design at the Paris Art Deco Fair in 1925. It was an early sign of greatness to come.

The Ant

Image: Ant chair

ant chair

[Photo credit: lglazier618]

In 1952, Arne Jacobsen debuted the first of his iconic furniture designs, the Ant Chair. Functional foremost, it was designed for the canteen of the Danish pharma co., Novo Nordisk. Light and stackable, with clean lines, the original had three legs, though contemporary versions often use four.

The Egg Chair

Arne was known for his love of proportion, and this is beautifully realized in the distinctive Arne Jacobsen Egg Chair. The architect first sculpted the design in clay, shaping its fluid lines. Quite like an egg, the chair enfolds the sitter, holding him in a cocoon of sorts.

Here’s an amazing video of the master at work, crafting an Egg chair and detailing it by hand.

video: The birth of the egg

Want more of the egg chair? Click to view the slide show.

  • The iconic egg chair
  • The chair was originally designed for the Radisson SAS Hotel in Copenhagen
  • There are both fabric and leather covered versions
  • The chair rests on a star shaped aluminum base
  • The egg chair allows you to disappear into its depths, hidden from view

Photo credits:, Wikimedia commons Scott,

The Swan Chair

Created in 1952, the same year as the Egg Chair, the Swan Chair seems to be poised, swan-like, to glide into the distance. Not only is it perfectly symmetrical, it is composed entirely of curving, flowing lines. Should you wish to lounge about in graceful, swan-style yourself, it has a sofa version, currently retailing at upwards of $7000. The classic is still manufactured by Fritz Hansen.

Image: Swan chair

swan chair

The swan chair is another Arne Jacobsen classic

[Image credit: ]

But that was not all. Arne Jacobsen also designed the Series 7, one of the most recognised and knocked-off designs in the world.

series 7

Light and stackable, the Series 7 used technology that allowed plywood to be bent in three dimensions

Image: Series 7


Arne Jacobsen was passionate about all aspects of design. He created a line of tableware, the minimalist Cylinda line. His iconic furniture designs have worked themselves into the public consciousness and are seen in a number of high profile locations.

It is ironic that while Arne Jacobsen is considered one of the greats of Danish Modern design, he himself hated the term ‘designer’. He saw himself as an architect and an artist, driven by the need to integrate aesthetics and functionality into everyday life.

Which of these Arne Jacobsen’s chairs is your favorite? Do share in comments below.

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