Arne Jacobsen bought a plywood chair designed by Charles Eames and installed it in his own studio, where it inspired one of the most commercially successful chair models in design history. The three-legged Ant chair (1951) sold in millions and is considered a classic today. It consists of two simple elements: tubular steel legs and a springy seat and back formed out of a continuous piece of plywood in a range of vivid colors.
Arne Jacobsen began training as a mason before studying at the Royal Danish Academy of Arts, Copenhagen where he won a silver medal for a chair that was then exhibited at the 1925 Exposition Internationale des Art Decoratifs in Paris. Influenced by Le Corbusier, Gunnar Asplund and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Jacobsen embraced a functionalist approach from the outset. He was among the first to introduce modernist ideas to Denmark and create industrial furniture that built upon on its craft-based design heritage.
First among Arne Jacobsen’s important architectural commissions was the Bellavista housing project, Copenhagen. Best known and most fully integrated works, are the SAS Air Terminal and the Royal Hotel Copenhagen for which Jacobsen designed every detail from sculptural furnishings such as his elegant Swan and Egg chairs (1957-1958) to textiles, lighting, ashtrays and cutlery.
During the 1960’s, Jacobsen’s most important work was a unified architectural and interior design scheme for St. Catherine’s College, Oxford, which, like his earlier work for the Royal Hotel, involved the design of site-specific furniture. Jacobsen’s work remains appealing and fresh today, combining free-form sculptural shapes with the traditional attributes of Scandinavian design, material and structural integrity.