Arne Jacobsen (1902-1971) was one of the most influential Danish designers and architects of the twentieth century. His impressive legacy includes the Swan, Ant and Egg chairs; instantly recognisable modernist design classics that incorporate the designer’s clean minimalism with everyday functionality.
Born in Copenhagen in 1902, Jacobsen was employed as an apprentice bricklayer before winning a place to study architecture at the Royal Academy of the Arts in 1924. Jacobsen’s experiences at the RA – including a visit to the 1925 Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs and a trip to Berlin – were to have a lasting impact on the young designer. External factors also shaped the designer’s career – the outbreak of WWII forced Jacobsen to relocate to Sweden, where he designed fabrics and wallpapers inspired by Scandinavia’s cultural heritage and natural beauty. When Jacobsen returned to Denmark he discovered a country that urgently needed new housing and public buildings; his subsequent designs were austere and intended to be constructed at speed.
Around this time Jacobsen designed the Aarhus City Hall (1942) and the Rødovre City Hall (1956). Each building included a distinctive clock, and it is these elements that inspired Rosendahl’s watch versions. Each watch is a scaled-down replica of Jacobsen’s original design, recreated according to the designer’s exacting principles.
During the 1950s, Jacobsen became increasingly interested in product design and in 1951, influenced by US furniture designers Charles and Ray Eames, he completed work on the Ant Chair – Model 3100. In the latter half of the decade, Jacobsen designed the Royal Hotel in Copenhagen, taking charge of every last detail, from the cutlery to the furniture and ashtrays. The Swan and Egg were designed specifically for the hotel’s lobby.
Later projects included St. Catherine’s College in Oxford and the Cylinda Line stainless steel cocktail kit, designed in the late 1960s for Stelton, a company run by his foster son.