Arne Jacobsen 1902-1971

Design visionary and creator of the Egg™, Swan™, Series 7™ and Drop™ chairs, among other iconic furniture pieces.


It is said that as a child growing up in Copenhagen, Arne Jacobsen painted over the Victorian wallpaper in his bedroom. But young Arne did not cover his walls with typical childish drawings or paint the ornate wallpaper boyish blue. Instead, he decided to paint his room entirely white. His decision may seem commonplace today, but in the early twentieth century white walls were not yet in fashion. From the very beginning, Arne Jacobsen was ahead of his time. 

For more than half of the 20th century, Arne Jacobsen’s ideas shaped the landscape of Danish design, rippling out from Scandinavia to influence architects and designers around the world. He directed projects ranging from complex buildings such as Denmark’s National Bank to humble undertakings that included designing a teaspoon for his cutlery set. 

Working with a relatively small studio staff driven by an unquenchable desire to create, Jacobsen’s creative process centred on his strict consideration of detail. He brought his visions to life with meticulous, hand-painted watercolour sketches. In any given year, Jacobsen managed to design what others might produce in five.


Copenhagen´s first high-rise building, inspired by the skyscrapers of New York City.


Arne Jacobsen was a notoriously difficult man to work with, sarcastic and demanding, and even requiring his own staff to work around the clock rather than tend to their families. At home, he lined his cups and glasses in neat rows and ensured the children’s toys were stored out of sight. While redecorating, he had his family hold up picture frames for hours on end to make sure the final composition was just right. Yet despite his peculiarities, Jacobsen was a well-rounded individual who enjoyed painting, studying nature and tending to saplings. He had a warm, self-depreciating sense of humour evident in his hand-drawn Christmas cards to close friends or his carefully considered statements on subjects close to his heart. As a child, he liked to play the clown and throughout adulthood he continued his boyhood antics – once donning a hollowed-out melon as a hat. Oftentimes Jacobsen looked to escape the very thing he had helped to create: “I am choking on aesthetics,” he would say in private, where even the pastries he ate had to look as good as they tasted. Little wonder, then, that he often sought joy and comfort in places where anti-design and anti-aesthetics ruled. His legacy – as a pioneering and uncompromising modernist designer and a nature-loving, affable family man – reflects his complex nature.


Arne Jacobsen was not considered intellectual or analytical in a traditional sense. His design vernacular has become legendary in the industry thanks to expressions such as “as thin as possible and never in the middle,” and “today, we have to make a truly low/round project.” Jacobsen would also ask how objects had been “behaving” – personifying the pieces he created.