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Arne Jacobsen

Denmark (1902–1971)

While archi­tec­ture was Arne Jacob­sens primary focus, he also worked with light­ing, textiles, furni­ture and indus­trial design, approach­ing all projects with the same uncom­pro­mis­ing perfec­tion­ism that defined his entire prolific career. Striv­ing for an ideal balance of organic simplic­ity and func­tion­al­ism, he consid­ered every element down to the small­est details and constantly drew inspi­ra­tion from nature, whose organic shapes informed several of his furni­ture pieces. Jacobsen’s great love of flowers and land­scape garden­ing also mani­fested itself in a number of water­col­ors, wall­pa­pers, and fabrics.

Jacob­sen initially trained as a mason and, after grad­u­at­ing from a tech­ni­cal college in Copen­hagen in 1924, began his studies at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts. Here, lectur­ers and leading design­ers such as Kaare Klint and Kay Fisker, known for their rigor­ous design approach, came to deeply influ­ence Jacobsen’s work. Jacob­sen grad­u­ated with an archi­tec­ture degree in 1927, having already begun to estab­lish himself as a talented archi­tect. In the mid-1920s, he made his mark with designs and ideas that later contributed to the end of roman­tic neoclas­si­cism – a period of which Jacob­sen truly made a name for himself when, together with his friend and fellow student Flem­ming Lassen, he won a compe­ti­tion to design the House of the Future in Copen­hagen in 1929. He went on to design a number of villas before creat­ing the func­tion­al­ist Bellav­ista housing estate, which was built in 1932 – 1934 and strongly inspired by the French-Swiss archi­tect Le Corbusier. From then on, Jacobsen’s career gath­ered momen­tum with large build­ings and, later, with furni­ture and interior design.

An extremely produc­tive archi­tect and designer, Jacob­sen never­the­less made time to teach. For nearly a decade, from 1956 to 1965, he was a profes­sor at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Copen­hagen and was subse­quently awarded honorary doctor­ates from both the Univer­sity of Oxford and the Univer­sity of Strath­clyde in Glasgow. Jacob­sen was also a member of a number of Euro­pean academy coun­cils. The now world-famous archi­tect received multi­ple Danish and inter­na­tional awards, includ­ing the RIBA Bronze Medal in 1963 and the Medaille d’Or from the Académie d’Architecture de France in 1971.

Designs by Arne Jacobsen (1)