“Economy plus function equals style” was the theory behind Arne Jacobsen’s many architectural designs. This precedent study is a research paper about Arne Jacobsen. The paper will give an overview of Mr. Jacobsen’s life, and there will be an in-depth analysis of three of his projects that were created during his life-time.
Arne Jacobsen: Biography and Project Analysis
Arne Jacobsen was born February 11, 1902, died March 24, 1971 in Copenhagen, Denmark. Influenced by his mother’s hobby of painting floral motifs, Arne Jacobsen hoped to become a painter. However, his mother and father encouraged him to pursue a more secure career in Architecture. He graduated from The Technical Society’s School in 1924, as a trained bricklayer. He attended the School of Architecture at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, where he studied until 1926. As Poligrafa (2010, p. 13) wrote, while attending school, Jacobsen submitted a chair design to the 1925 Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs et Industriels Modernes, Paris World Exhibition and was awarded a silver medal, that is where his fame as a chair designer really began. Among Jacobsen’s early influences were Le Corbusier, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, and Walter Gropius (“Arne Jacobsen” n.d.). As a designer and architect, he is well known for his contributions to the Functionalist movement.
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After graduation Jacobsen went to work briefly under Poul Holsoe, a well-known neoclassical architect before starting his own firm in 1927. While in his own firm his work was met with protest and acclaim, creating numerous structures in the International Modern Style. In 1934 Jacobsen was commissioned to design the Stelling House, he integrated the aesthetic of the surrounding buildings while adding his own modern flair. He believed in the idea of “total design” creating everything from the furniture, and fittings to the uniforms of the employees of the buildings.
In 1943, during World War II Jacobsen who was in fear of being sent to Nazi concentration camp due to his Jewish background, was forced to flee by boat to Sweden. While there he and his second wife Jonna Jacobsen, a trained textile printer, started designing wallpaper and textiles for Noriske Kompaniet, the leading department store in Stockholm. Produced under the tragic circumstances of wartime, Jacobsen’s textiles of the 1940’s show an evolution from his interiors of the 1930’s to future abstract patterns and modular building of his later years as (Sheraton, 2003 p. 159) wrote.
When Jacobsen returned to Denmark, he resumed his architectural pursuits. During this time, he designed The Number Seven Chair and The Ant, further launching his reputation as a world-renowned furniture designer. In 1954 Jacobsen was commissioned to design the Rodovre Hall after winning a design competition. It has been stated throughout the years the overall form of the building resembled the General Motors Technical Center in Detroit, Michigan. Throughout his career, it was said that Jacobsen could never decide between architecture and design, thus conceived projects with amalgamation of both. This is said to be the reason every architectural piece is accompanied with the most minute details showing Jacobsen’s love of the arts (“Arne Jacobsen, Famous Architects” 2020).
In 1956, Mr. Jacobsen accepted the position of professor of architecture at The Royal Academy of Fine Arts, Copenhagen where he remained until 1965. In 1955 SAS selected Jacobsen to design The SAS Royal Hotel, built from 1956 to 1960, it gave Jacobsen the opportunity to design what has been called "the world's first designer hotel"(Kaminer, 2009). He designed everything from the building and its furniture and fittings to the ashtrays sold in the souvenir shop and the airport buses. In 1958 Jacobsen designed The Egg chair, it was one of many furniture designs he did for this building.
Arne Jacobsen is one of the most well-known architect and modern furniture designers of the 20th century. His abilities to use innovative glass and lighting, Jacobsen designed everything from curtains to stemware to chairs, thus creating an intimate experience in the space. He received international praise from his designs. Jacobsen excelled at bring together function and form in a unique and harmonious way. Due to his unexpected death in 197, his unfinished projects were completed by former apprentices. The fact that so many of his products from chairs and lighting fixtures of the 1950’s to the coffee pots and bathroom fixtures of the 1960’s, remain in production today is a statement to his ability to combine beauty and utility at every level (Sheridan 2003).
The above picture is an image of the unique staircase in The Rodovre Town Hall in Copenhagen, Denmark. The Rodovre Town Hall showcases Arne Jacobsen’s interest in minimalism. It was completed in 1956. The building has been said to have been inspired by the General Motors Technical Center in the United States. The town hall has two separate building connected by a glass corridor. The materials used for the staircase by Jacobsen are rubber and metal surrounded by glass and suspended from the ceiling/roof using orange steel rods. This staircase also features the use of mixed media materials.
The main staircase, a dog-leg plan with half landings towards the window side, is on the south side of the entrance hall and is a thin and elegant design in and seems to be suspended in the space. The proportions of the stairs are an example that follows The Golden Mean, in which that there is a striking balance between two objects that is pleasing to the eye. While looking at the zigzag like pattern of the stair landing the eye is able to follow the pattern continuously upwards without breaking the look. There is also a symmetrical balance of the proportions of the stair landings.
Looking at the staircase there is multiple uses of rhythm. The first use of rhythm is repetition where the metal stair has a zigzag pattern that is continuous throughout the upward climb of the staircase. The rhythm of opposition or contrast is also seen in the interesting rhythm of the stair landings versus the stairs. The next use of rhythm is the transition of the orange steel rods that forms lines that move the eye upwards as well.
The emphasis is placed on the zigzag of the stairs to create a focal point. The use of the color orange for the steel rods move the eye to an additional emphasis which allows the viewers eye to move along seamlessly. All together the stairs work together as a whole to create a beautiful emphasis of a focal point.
The stairs create harmony with the architecture and elements that are pleasing, orderly and in a state of agreement. The glass, and steel are hard and smooth to create a sense of unity and harmony.
The stairs also have a sense of space. The open space of the glass gives the landings a feeling of floating on air. The shapes of the stairs zigzag have a geometric balance to them. The forms of the steel rods are cylindrical.
There are multiple uses of lines in the staircase. The first is the horizontal landings, which show the feel of weightiness. The second use of line is the vertical steel rods which show solidity and lift the eye vertically. The next use is angular, which provides the eye with movement, action, and stability. The final use of line is the zigzag lines which create movement and action.
The use of natural lighting works well to highlight the contrast and colors of the staircase. It highlights the surfaces of the glass.
The use of the color of a secondary color orange on the steel rods give a visual contrast that gives the eye visual stimulation.
Built by Arne Jacobsen in collaboration with another Danish architect Erik Moller in 1937, the structure stands out with its jutting clock tower and three staggered building elements. 70 years after its completion, the uniquely designed Aarhus City Hall still represents a modern marvel. The style reflects modernism, with organic lines that soften the business-like, constructive building made of concrete plated with marble. The interior, which is not shown is made of brass and wood makes an elegant impression.
The scale of the tower and clock give the building a sense of weight. The size of the clock also is a reference to actual scale of the building.
The proportions of the building are pleasing to the eye and for The Golden Mean rule.
There is a balance that is asymmetrical in the shape of the building. The height of the clock tower versus the actual building height gives the asymmetrical balance. There is also a sense of asymmetrical balance in the length of the building with the front side appearing shorter than the length of the backside behind the tower.
The rhythm created on the façade of the Aarhus City Hall is seen in the windows. The repletion of the rectangular windows creates a sense of minimalism. The use of the element of opposition is found in the soft curve of the copper front of the roof on the front of the building. The contrast of the steel lines of the exterior of the tower versus the radius of the clock is also use of rhythm.
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The emphasis of the clock tower creates a focal point that allows the eye to travel upwards. The harmony in The Aarhus City Hall is created with the repletion of the windows and the geometric grid of squares and rectangles on the façade of the building. The use of space on the building would be considered positive space. The mass of the actual size of the clock tower is weighted in look.
The use of line in the building is achieved in a few ways. The horizontal lines of the concrete expand the space of the building giving it a weighty look. The vertical lines of the skeletal structure of the clock tower give a lofty imposing feel that lifts the eye upwards. The curved copper roof creates a soft transition to the other wise hard horizontal lines.
The texture of the building is smooth and simplistic. The pattern is achieved with the repetition of the rectangular and square glass windows. The use of natural lighting seen through the skeletal structure of the clock is visually impacting. Although this view does not show the interiors it is apparent that the use of natural lighting plays a key part in the interior. The color used in this building is minimal with variation and would be considered achromatic or neutral. Overall this building is a monument to minimalistic design with a modern touch.
The Jacobsen Egg Chair has become an icon in modern furniture design. Commissioned for the Royal Hotel in Copenhagen, Denmark in 1958. The materials are molded aluminum base and leather of fabric for the seat and back. The dimensions of the Egg Chair are 43” tall, 34” wide, and 31” in depth. This chair also featured an ottoman. The Egg Sofa was briefly designed as well but was stopped due to the size and upholstering issues.
The scale of the chair seat in proportion to the base is large. It has a sense of floating in air with the bases light feel. The scale of the “wing back” portion of the top to the bottom is larger.
The proportions of the of the size of the chair are pleasing to look at and follow the Golden Mean Rule, giving the eye a pleasing visual view. The proportions of the seat to the back as a whole are pleasing to the eye.
The balance of the materials of the chair are considered symmetrical. The base gives a radial balance with the four -star legs that are equal distance from the base center. There is also a balance of function and form in the chair as it swivels and reclines, thus allowing total relaxation for the person sitting in it.
The rhythm in the Egg Chair is found in the cocoon shape of lines that transition the eye without any interruption. The wavelike line travels around the whole shape of the chair. There is also a progression of the shape widening and lessening in its shape
The emphasis on the chair is in the shape that resembles the shape of an eggshell. The minimal lines of the base place all the emphasis on the shape of the chair.
The harmony that is created in this chair is thru the orderly state of the minimal design of it. The combination of the design elements creates a unity to the design of this chair.
The space of the Egg Chair is created in a couple of ways. The mass of the chair compared to the simplistic look of the base is positive space. There is also a feeling of negative space with the wave-like movement on the middle of the chair.
The form of the chair back is an inverted pyramid. The shape of the chair has a natural feel to it in the fact it imitates the look of a cracked egg. The base of the chair has radial form with the four-star legs equal distance from the center base leg.
The mass of the chair if has a solid look with the volume placed on the chair back.
There are a view uses of lines in the Egg Chair. The first use of lines is the use of horizontal lines on the base legs that give the base a secure feel and look. The next use is the curved lines of the chair creating a softness around the edges and a feeling of gracefulness. The flowing lines are also represented in the design.
The texture and patterns in this chair would be dictated by the use of upholstery, which would vary based on choice. The use of light would also vary based on placement of the chair in the interior space. The same applies for color.
- Poligrafa, E. (2010). Objects and Furniture Design Arne Jacobsen. Balmes, Barcelona: Distributed Art Publishers.
- Sheridan, M. (2003). The SAS House and Work of Arne Jacobsen Room 606. New York, NY.: Phaidon Press Limited.
- Arne Jacobsen. (n.d.). Retrieved January 30, 2020, from http://www.artnet.com/artists/arne-jacobsen/biography
- Arne Jacobsen Architect: Biography, Buildings, Projects and Facts. (n.d.). Retrieved January 30, 2020, from https://www.famous-architects.org/arne-jacobsen/
- Kaminer, M. (2009, July 12). Copenhagen's Royal Hotel: The First Designer Hotel. Retrieved January 30, 2020, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/wpdyn/content/article/2009/07/10/AR2009071001663
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