A Closer Look at Designer Arne Jacobsen

arne jacobsen

Arne Jacobsen, an architect and designer from Denmark, was recognized for his contributions to the architectural Functionalism discipline. In addition, his simple, but very effective chair designs achieved success worldwide.

Jacobsen endured a considerable level of public opposition for his innovative, avant-garde style. However, eventually his talents were acknowledged so that he was commissioned to build one of Copenhagen’s most famous and historic structures, the Stelling House on Gammeltorv. Although the rather modernistic style could be considered restrained by later standards, it became a model of historical building after much protest during the time. In fact, one local newspaper printed a story citing that wrote Jacobsen should be banned from architecture for eternity.

Born on February 11, 1902 to middle-class Jewish parents in Copenhagen, he first aspired to be a painter. However, his father dissuaded him, encouraging architecture as a more secure career. Jacobsen was admitted to the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts’ Architecture School after a short stint as an apprentice mason. From 1924 to 1927 leading designers and architects, Kaj Gottlob and Kay Fisker served as his instructors.

While at the Academy, he became influenced by Le Corbusier’s L’Esprit Nouveau pavilion’s innovative esthetic. He also discovered Mies van der Rohe and Walter Gropius’ rationalist architecture in Germany. These designs influenced his early work, such as his art gallery graduation project, for which he won him a gold medal.

After completion of architecture school, Jacobsen began work at Poul Holsoe’s architectural firm. In 1930, he set up an office where he set about designing every detail of the functionalist inspired Rothenborg House.

His design of Århus City Hall with Erik Moller won a competition, however, it was so controversial that it was considered too anti-monumental and modern. As a result, a tower and marble cladding was added, to consist of three volumes. Regardless, it is considered one of his most influential designs.

Before he died on March 24, 1971, he was recognized for his work with the following accolades:

*In 1925, as a student, he won a silver medal for chair design from the Paris Art Deco Exposition.

*His art gallery graduation project at Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts’ Architecture School in 1927 won an award.

*In 1929, he won a Danish Architect’s Association award for the “House of the Future,” designed with Flemming Lassen.

*From the Gentofte Municipality, for a seaside resort complex design in Klampenborg north of Copenhagen, he won a competition in 1930.

*In 1931 he and Erik Moller won a competition designing Århus City Hall, considered a controversial structure.

When Arne Jacobsen passed away in 1971 unexpectedly, there were several large projects in process. The projects were completed by Dissing and Weitling and included a revamped town hall for Mainz, Germany, a project for London’s Royal Danish Embassy and one for the Danish National Bank.