The Oxford™ chair was handcrafted for the professors at St Catherine’s College at the University of Oxford and designed by Arne Jacobsen. A symbol of prestige and status, the high back and smooth, curved veneer form were crafted to invoke a sense of space and privacy. The design evolved over time into today’s Oxford™.
He could be difficult, sarcastic and uncompromising towards working partners and manufacturers and required his staff to work more or less around the clock rather than tend to their families - or leave. His family was asked to select the proper white paint among several whites when the home was being redecorated, and then had to hold up picture frames for hours to get the composition right. The coffee cups were lined up in neat, geometrical rows, and the children’s toys put away when Jacobsen finally returned from the studio. The nature-loving botanist The other side of his personality shows a very different, rounder Jacobsen, who in Rousseau style was absorbed in watercolours, nature studies and tending to saplings. Jacobsen sometimes sought to escape the limitations and restrictions that he himself had helped create: ’I am choking on aesthetics,’ he might say in private, and he sometimes expressed great joy in seeking refuge in places where anti-design and anti-aesthetics ruled. ’This is great, here you can’t change a thing!’ He enjoyed devouring a delicious pastry. But the pastry still had to look nice to taste good, a sign of the difficult dilemma of flouting the aesthetics, if only for a moment. A warm sense of humour Arne Jacobsen’s humour and self-deprecation is evident, among other places, in his drafts and hand-drawn Christmas cards to close friends or in the way he worded his statements on subjects close to his heart (mostly professional in nature). Ever since he was a child, he liked to play the clown, and throughout his adult years, he continued the buffoonery and sometimes took on zany bets, like wearing a hollowed-out melon for a hat.
As Fritz Hansen updates the Oxford™ chair – stripping it back to its pure, original form while enhancing it with comfort and function– we imagine what the hallowed halls would look like today with this new rendition of the once professorial chair. Together with the Pluralis™ table by Kasper Salto, the respectful modernisation celebrates great design that unties form and function in timeless ways.