Klismosstol / Klismos Chair by Kaj Gottlob 1921

 

Clearly this chair is not a modern chair - not by any stretch of the imagination - but it is important because it shows how styles and forms of furniture from the 19th century continued on well into the 20th century.

The chair was designed in 1921 for the Court House in Fredericksberg … the municipality immediately to the west of Copenhagen … so the commission was for furniture for a major civic building that itself dated from the 19th century and therefore, perhaps, more formal and more solid and more traditional furniture was appropriate but it also shows clearly that it is unwise to try and see the history of design in terms of a rapid and inevitable changing of the guard in a clear-cut way or even as something that everyone at the time just accepted as inevitable.

The chair appears to be old-fashioned to modern eyes and the design, taking the distinct form of a Klismos stole or classical type of chair, looks back to a style of chair made in Denmark from the late 18th century onwards but it would have been seen as perfectly acceptable to architects and designers of the New Classicism school that was strong if not dominant in Denmark from about 1915 and through to the 1930s.

Nor are architects or designers restricted to one style across their work. Born in 1887, Kaj Gottlob was just a year older than Kaare Klint and so, then in his early 30s, he can hardly be written off as an old man out of touch with new trends. He had travelled widely in Greece, Italy, France and North Africa and after teaching at the Technical School from 1915 and then at the Royal Academy Building School he was appointed as a professor at the Royal Academy in 1924. Although his furniture designs were generally in this style, he is acknowledged to be one of the leading architects of the Modernist Movement … by the late 1920s he was seen as a Functionalist - not a term you would use for this chair - and his most famous designs are probably for the two bridges over the harbour in Copenhagen with Knippelsbro that he designed in the 1930s and then Langebro that Gottlob designed after the War and that was completed in 1954.

 

a Klismos chair in Designmuseum Danmark from circa 1790 by N A Abildgaard (1743-1809)

detail of chair in the collection of Designmuseum Danmark in Copenhagen

 

designed  by Kaj Gottlob (1887-1976)
made by Fritz Hansen Eftf

ash, cane seat, leather cushion

height: 76 cm
width: 68 cm
depth: 54.5 cm
height of seat: 42 cm

 

chair by Søren Hansen 1930

chair photographed at Designmuseum Danmark

 

designed by Søren Hansen (1905-1977)
made by Firitz Hansen Eftf

steam-bent beech

height: 79 cm
height of seat: 46.5 cm

 
L1240319.jpg
 

chair by the Viennese company Thonet - made from the middle of the 19th century onwards

it could be transported in separate parts and assembled at the destination

the seat is cane rather than plywood

Fritz Hansen Eftf produced a number of chairs in bentwood and plywood between 1928 and 1948. Generally, these bentwood chairs in beech are referred to as DAN chairs. 

This chair from 1930 was designed by Søren Hansen - the grandson of Fritz Hansen who founded the furniture company. It takes as a starting point the famous chairs by Thonet - the Austrian company - that date from the 19th century but simplifies the form. In both chairs, the back posts and the back rest are made from a single piece of steam-bent wood but, in the Danish version, the back rest forms a more generous and perhaps an even-more extravagant loop. 

The chair by Søren Hansen has a rounded but not circular seat - with a piece of plywood that was dropped into a rebate in the frame - and, like the Austrian chair, it has a closed bentwood hoop below the seat that reinforces the frame and keeps the legs in place so has the function of the stretchers in a traditional wood chair.

From below it is possible to see that there is also a robust cross bar to the loop of the back that supports the back edge of the seat and carries much of the weight of the person sitting in the chair. 

Rather than using traditional mortice-and-tenon joints - normal in the work of a cabinetmaker - the separate parts of this chair are fixed together with screws and bolts so, like the Thonet chair, it seems to mark an intermediate stage between cabinet making and the later industrial production or factory production of furniture that did not require workbench woodworking skills.

The back of the chair is lower and broader than the Austrian design so supports the back more and the pronounced backward curve of the back posts of the DAN chair have more than an echo of the the Klismos type and the downward angle of the truncated or incipient elbow rests surely show a form that was picked up by Wegner for his Chinese chairs and the Wishbone Chair twenty years later.

 

cantilevered chair by Mogens Lassen 1933

 

Mogens Lassen was just a year older than his brother Fleming and both were at school with Arne Jacobsen. All three became architects and designers and Fleming Lassen worked in partnership with Jacobsen on several major projects in the late 1920s and through the 1930s including working together on the House of the Future … an exhibition entry from 1929 … and the Library at Nyborg and the town hall at Søllerød. 

Both Mogens and Fleming Lassen travelled widely but it was the buildings by Mogens, particularly the villas he designed, and his furniture that were closer to is generally recognised as the International style of the 1930s. Mogens Lassen studied in France and was offered but turned down a post in the studio of Le Corbusier and returned to Denmark where he established his own design studio in 1935.

The cantilevered chair, designed in 1933, takes as a starting point a chair with a tubular metal frame by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe … the MR20 designed in 1927 … but where the German designer has a simple seat and back rest with a continuous panel of cane across the frame, Mogens Lassen produced a striking and unique design with a basket woven around the frame that encloses the person in the chair.

As with the work by Poul Kjærholm, some 20 years later, the texture and natural colour of the cane is used as a contrast and as a foil to the metalwork.

Through the 20th century many Danish designers used woven cane for the seat and back rests for chairs … for instance the high-back chair, arm chair and sofa from the 1960s by Bernt Petersen … where the frame in wood is the key element of the design and the panels of cane infill … but few created designs that so closely retained the character of a basket where the cane work is the structure. 

Arne Jacobsen designed the Pariserstolen in 1925 but that looks like a chair for a conservatory or garden terrace. 

One of the few modern Danish chairs with a comparable focus on cane work as a basket is the Kurvestol by Nanna Ditzel from 1950 that was made by Ludvig Pontoppidan … a chair that has a large hemisphere of basket with a strong flat rim that was supported on a simple frame in teak with four turned and tapered legs with thin straight cross rails.

by Lassen Copenhagen

 

 

designed by Mogens Lassen (1901-1987)
made by Fritz Hansen Eftf

chrome steel tube, cane

height: 71cm
width: 58cm
depth: 76cm

 

chair by Søren Hansen 1943

chair in Designmuseum Danmark

From the late 1920s and through into the 1940s, the furniture manufacturer Fritz Hansen Etft experimented with new materials and tried out new manufacturing methods. They made chairs with frames in steamed and bent wood, producing several chairs based on chairs produced by Thonet in Austria from the middle of the 19th century with a bentwood frame for the seat and bentwood legs with a plain seat cut from plywood and without upholstery.

This chair, designed by Søren Hansen, uses plywood in a much more ambitious and much more obvious and prominent way. 

The boldly-shaped back of the chair was cut from plywood and bent into a curve around the bentwood frame of the seat and then fixed in place with screws. It might appear to be rather crude in form and it looks as if it would spring apart or even collapse if you lent back in the chair but the design is relatively strong with the arm rests made from a single piece of bent wood that loops around behind the back to provide support.

Søren Hansen was a grandson of the founder of the furniture company and, with his brother, took over control of the company in the 1950s so it would seem that he took this interest in plywood or laminated wood forward so the shape of the plywood back should look vaguely familiar ..… surely this is an early version or a preliminary stage of a shape that was to develop ultimately into the more sophisticated and much more famous Chair 7 by Arne Jacobsen? The main difference is that the back of this chair by Hansen is curved in just one plane and it must have taken quite a few trials and experiments before the workshop could perfect the complex form of the later shell chairs that are curved in two planes to form a seat and back together in a single piece of plywood.

The year of the design also explains, in part, the reasons for the experiments with plywood and bentwood for making chairs. Through the Second World War, good high-quality timber for making furniture was scarce and of course the situation meant that most people were spending much less or no money on new furniture. But, actually, the war also saw rapid improvements in cutting and shaping plywood as it was used for building light-weight planes and boats with thin sheets of laminated wood pinned over a wood frame. Alvar Aalto had designed several chairs in the 1930s that used bent plywood but with the curves in a single plane … essentially a long scroll … but it was in the United States that the designers Charles and Ray Eames developed designs of shell-shaped chairs in plywood and plastic in the late 1940s and early in the 1950s.

 

designed by Søren Hansen (1905-1977)
made by Fritz Hansen Eftf

steam-bent arms and plywood seat and back ash
height: 86cm
width: 53cm
depth: 53cm

Portex Arm Chair  by Peter Hvidt and Orla Mølgaard-Nielsen  1945

designed by Peter Hvidt (1916-1986) and Orla Mølgaard-Nielsen (1907-1986)
made by Fritz Hansen Etft

frame beech - front legs turned - back posts steam bent

height: 80cm
width: 61cm
depth: 62cm

The Portex range of furniture was designed to be exported, so there was a desk where the legs could be unscrewed and shipped in the desk drawer, although this chair, actually, was shipped assembled. The designers themselves explained exactly why and in doing so explain functional aspects of the chair that were taken into account in its design.

"While we realized the necessity of being able to dismantle or fold up cupboards, tables and beds during transport, we did not dare use these principles for chairs. A chair screwed together that might be quite stiff to begin with will never in the long run be able to stand up to the stress that it will invariably be subjected to. A chair must often bear great weight, must be able to tolerate being tilted, and will be moved more or less brutally throughout the day. The screw would work in its hole under these stresses, and in the end will loosen. The stacking principle was chosen since it has the advantage that the chair could be assembled and finished at the factory. The disadvantage was that the known stacking chairs shows clear signs that they can be stacked."

The chair was inspired by a Shaker chair although, unlike Shaker chairs, it can be stacked. 

The frame of the seat is interesting with main cross bars between the front legs and between the back posts with the plywood seat over-sailing the front frame rather than being set into a rebate - so making the thin seat a distinct feature. There are timbers running front to back on each side, at an angle, to form the trapezium shape of the seat so that back legs of a chair on top can be slotted down on either side of the seat below when the chairs are stacked. These pieces of timber for the frame are much taller than they are thick - in part because the cross pieces have to be housed into legs with a round rather than a square cross section - so the thickness has to be limited - but it also keeps the frame as light as possible although this was clearly still a fairly robust chair … chairs that can be stacked tend to come in for rather more rough treatment than chairs left in place around a table or left permanently in rows in a meeting room.

 

Ax chair by Peter Hvidt and Orla Mølgaard-Nielsen 1947

 

Ax Chair in the permanent collection of Designmuseum Danmark in Copenhagen

 
 
FH6135.jpeg
FH6135 detail.jpeg

Chair FH6135 by Peter Hvidt and Orla Mølgaard-Nielsen 1959. Copyright for the images auction site Lauritz.com

 This is an interesting chair because rather than forming a plywood shell, it uses laminated and moulded wood for the chair seat and the back rest that are supported between frames of laminated and bent beech in a form but not a style reminiscent of the chairs by the Finnish architect Alvar Aalto from the 1930s.

The Ax series that included a number of chairs and tables was some of the first Danish furniture to be made after the War that was aimed specifically at the export market. Many of the pieces were designed so that they could be packed as parts and then assembled at the destination and in the 1950s furniture made in Denmark in more expensive woods such as teak or mahogany tended to be exported rather than sold to the home market.

Two chairs were made in this form - one narrower, the height and width for a traditional dining chair, and this design wider and lower as an easy chair.

Both had the distinctive feature of paired stretchers set parallel, one above the other, both between the front legs and between the back legs. These stretchers are turned - round in cross section, slightly tapered and shaped at the ends - and brace and hold together the two side sections of the frame. Those side frames are strong enough for the stretchers to be omitted.

The form of the bentwood side frames is important as Hvidt and Mølgaard-Nielsen developed a specific method of building up layers of laminate around a solid core - in mahogany or teak - rather like the way the handle of a tennis racket with a wood frame is joined to the laminated loop of the racket head. The most distinct example of this type of lamination is for the chair they designed for Fritz Hansen in 1959 - the FH6135 - where, to describe it crudely, four V-shapes in laminated and bent wood are fixed together around a solid diamond-shaped core to form an X that is the side frame of the chair.

A  triangular core in solid wood and the laminate bending and curving away on either side can be seen clearly but in a rather more subtle and rather less decorative way at the top of the front legs of the Ax Chair.

This detail contributes to the flowing or unbroken lines of the side view that is a distinct feature of the design. Note the way that the bottom edges of the side pieces for the seat are slightly chamfered across the front and this chamfer runs down unbroken into a curve that runs back under the side piece and then down the front leg just at the point where the fingers of a person sitting in the chair would grip the front edge of the seat as they are transferring their weight and standing up from the chair … a small but good example of ergonomics, careful design and high-quality manufacturing coming together in a carefully thought through detail and, in part, reflects that both designers trained as cabinet makers.

The front of the legs is not flat but they have a slight convex finish that in part shows the quality of the work but in part also makes a virtue out of a necessity because with laminated wood it is actually better not to try to achieve a crisp sharp angle to the edge or have a square-cut end to a piece as that can split or break away in use or with knocks or damage.

 
Copy of Chair, 1932, by Alvar Aalto

cantilevered chair by Alvar Aalto c. 1930 with seat, back and arm rests from a single piece of wood and with a tubular metal frame

In the Ax Chair the arm rests are distinctive. A chair from the 1930s designed by the Finnish architect Alvar Aalto had a similar form of arm rest with what appears to be a slit cut through the wood and the seat bent down in an L shape to follow the seat and back but the outer part bent up to form the L shape of the arm rest - a horizontal part for the arm and elbow and the vertical part running back down to the seat - but in the Aalto chair that was all done - seat, backrest and arm rest - in a single piece of plywood whereas here it is the bentwood beech frame that is split and shaped.

In some books, the design of the Ax Chair is dated to 1947 but dated 1950 for the first production.

With the separate moulded seat and moulded back, in laminated wood, the design echoes the type designed by Charles and Ray Eames in the 1940s although the chairs are obviously very different in style. The Ax chairs seem somehow more traditional and more tightly controlled - more conservative - in comparison although they were certainly successful in terms of sales.

 

designed by Peter Hvidt (1916-1986) and Orla Mølgaard-Nielsen (1907-1993)
made by Fritz Hansen

beech and mahogany bent frame with laminated teak seat and back

height: 75cm
width: 62cm
depth: 71cm
height of seat: 38cm

Shell Chair FH1936  by Hans Wegner 1948

designed by Hans Wegner
made by Fritz Hansen Eftf

frame beech - seat and back laminated teak veneer

height: 70cm
width: 73cm 
depth: 60 cm
height of seat: 38 cm 

This is a combination of chair types with a relatively conventional frame of legs and stretchers that forms a cradle for a thick curved plywood seat and a well-proportioned and curved back rest that is also in thick plywood.

The side stretchers are shaped and curve down at the ends and the legs stop short of the underside of the seat. This is described by some critics as a cantilevered seat. The use of thicker plywood for the seat means that the normal seat frame can be omitted completely so this is plywood used in a more sophisticated way for more expensive furniture.

 

Myren / The Ant Chair / FH3100 by Arne Jacobsen 1952

Ant Chair in the permanent collection of Designmuseum Danmark in Copenhagen

 

The Ant Chair was designed for the canteen of Novo Industry - the pharmaceutical company - or rather - the story is that Arne Jacobsen had designed the chair but Fritz Hansen were not convinced that it was viable commercially. When a director from Novo visited the drawing office to discuss work on the design of new buildings for Novo and admired the chair, he asked Jacobsen about the design. Jacobsen told him it was for the canteen at the new factory and so secured an order for 200 that convinced Fritz Hansen that the design should go into production.

This was not an industrial design, as such, but the design for an industrially manufactured chair for everyday use.

It was launched by Fritz Hansen on the 24 October 1952, on the 80th anniversary of the company, and was shown first at the Danish Society of Arts and Crafts exhibition in Zurich and then at the Danish Museum of Decorative Arts in January 1953.

When the chair first went into production there was a choice from four types of plywood - beech, oak, walnut and teak - and a version finished with black lacquer. Later palisander and Oregon pine were added to the range and there was a version with coloured felt glued to the front face of the seat and the back.

Jacobsen designed the chair with three legs and despite requests for a version with four legs, he objected to the idea and it could not be put into production until after he died.

The legs in steel are held in place at the centre of the underside of the chair with rubber spacers so that they do not sit against the plywood but also to stop the legs twisting or moving sideways if someone using the chair shifts their weight.

The Ant was the first Danish chair that was made with a single shell in plywood that is curved in both planes to form a  seat and back in a single piece of laminated wood.

Charles and Ray Eames and Eero Saarinen experimented by cutting slits into the plywood to form a complex shell but Jacobsen achieved a sharp curve between the seat and back while also forming spoon-shaped hollow curves across the width of the seat and the back by reducing the width of the shape at the centre. That is the simple if unromantic reason for the distinct shape of the chair.

The Ant Chair is light in weight and stacks so it was used in public spaces like meeting rooms and lecture rooms. People remark that the chair has a decorative effect particularly when a number are set out in a space together in rows which creates a strong and undulating pattern reminiscent of fish scales.

In an interview Jacobsen revealed that he had considered using plastic rather than plywood but had rejected the idea because it would have made the chair too expensive - mainly because production of a moulded plastic shell requires an investment in expensive machinery.

designed by Arne Jacobsen
made by Fritz Hansen and still in production

laminated wood shell (plywood) and legs in tube steel
a version was made with the legs covered with light grey fluted plastic

height: 77 cm
width: 51 cm
depth: 51 cm
height of seat: 44 cm

 

Chair FH3103 by Arne Jacobsen 1955

 

 

The chair was designed by Arne Jacobsen in collaboration with Dr E Snorrason who gave advice on how to improve the lumbar support provided by the back of the chair. There is a sharper and more pronounced curve at the base of the back and the top of the back has a more generous width to support the shoulder blades.

The initial version made by Fritz Hansen was produced using a plywood faced with teak ... then popular and normally implying a more expensive piece of furniture. 

With fairly straight sides to the seat and angled front corners rather than a smooth curve, the chair is more angular than the other shell chairs by Jacobsen - almost octagonal.

There was a version of the chair with a swivel frame with wheels so that it could be used as an office or desk chair.

 

 

designed by Arne Jacobsen

height: 62 cm
width: 34 cm
depth: 37 cm
height of seat: 42.5 cm

smaller versions of the chair with seat heights of 36 cm and 34 cm were made for children.

Chair 7 by Arne Jacobsen 1955

Skalstole / Shell chairs

 

Designed by Arne Jacobsen in 1955, this is perhaps the classic shell chair and is still in production. 

It is made in remarkably thin laminated wood with either a wood veneer or the shell is painted. There are also upholstered versions.

Thin metal legs are bent and meet at a central circle of wood applied to the underside of the shell and with a cover, originally metal and later plastic. There are spacers before the elbow of the leg to hold the legs in position and dampers that ensure that the seat is neither too rigid, making the chair uncomfortable, nor too flexible making the sitting position seem unstable.

The chairs are light and they stack which makes this a popular option for institutional use, such as meeting spaces or temporary lecture rooms but, of course that can be useful in an ordinary home if space is tight or if extra seating is only needed occasionally.

Model 3107 was also produced with arms (model 3207) and with a swivel base for an office chair and the shell can be fixed directly to a step or beam in an arrangement for theatres or auditoriums.

 
 

designed by Arne Jacobsen
produced by Fritz Hansen Eftf

shell laminated wood
legs tube steel with chrome finish

height: 79 cm
width: 45 cm
depth: 40 cm
height of seat: 44 cm

 

read more in an earlier post - design classic: Series 7 Chair

 
 

the Munkegård chair / FH3105 by Arne Jacobsen 1955

 

A small and elegant chair designed by Arne Jacobsen for Munkegård School in Copenhagen. It is sometimes referred to as The Mosquito.

Versions were produced by Fritz Hansen in beech, teak and stained black. The chair has been in production several times but is not currently available.

Jacobsen designed the elementary school that was completed in 1957 and, as with so many of his major projects, he designed so much more than the structure, designing the paving and planting of the courtyards, fittings including lighting and, with the chairs, Jacobsen also designed a school desk in plywood with a metal frame. The design of the desk has a simple flat top or writing surface that is bent to run down the back and then back under the top to form a shelf for books. The front edge of the shelf was turned down in the same way that the front edge of the chair seats was angled down to protect the back of the legs. The frame of the desks also included a hook on one side for hanging a school bag.

 

 

designed by Arne Jacobsen
made by Fritz Hansen

height: 77 cm
width: 40.5 cm
depth: 47 cm
height of seat: 42.5 cm and lower versions with seat height of 36 cm and 40 cm

 

Grand Prix-stolen / Grand Prix Chair / FH4130 by Arne Jacobsen 1957

Grand Prix in the permanent collection of Designmuseum Danmark in Copenhagen

 

The chair was shown at the XI Triennial in Milan in 1957 - where the design was awarded the Grand Prix from which it takes its name - and then shown at Charlottenborg, in Copenhagen, later in the same year.

In the original version the shell was made with a teak or beech finish or the chair could be upholstered.

The shape of the back is closely related to the FH3103 but here, rather than a straight line across the top of the back, the back has a truncated or stumpy Y shape that makes it, somehow, almost anthropomorphic.

There is a pronounced scooping out to the shape of the seat and at the front a pronounced down turn or lip.

Initially the chair had four separate legs that were L shaped and in laminated beech with a strong moulding to the cross section presumably, in part, to make it look less solid or less heavy. The legs mimicked the profile of the metal legs on the other shell chairs so were angled out towards the floor and at the top were curved but under the seat they were shaped to form a long hammer or hockey-stick shape to form as long a face as possible along the top for the legs to be glued to the underside of the shell. This proved to be unstable - presumably under the weight of a person the centre of the seat moved down or the legs splayed out and even if the glue of the leg held then the face layer of the plywood would presumably split away from the layer below.

 

 

The design was changed and the individual legs were replaced with two n-shaped pieces of steam-bent beech that cross at the centre where they are halved over each other to form a robust join and fixed to a circular plywood plate at the centre of the underside of the moulded shell. That form is closely related to the frame of legs in wood made for the Giraffe - the dining chair that Jacobsen designed for the SAS Royal Hotel.

A version of the Grand Prix chair with steel legs was also produced and in catalogues is identified as model FH3130.

 

designed by Arne Jacobsen
made by Fritz Hansen

height: 78 cm
width: 48 cm
depth: 51 cm
height of seat: 42.5 cm

PK24 / ECK24 by Poul Kjærholm 1965

photographed at Designmuseum Danmark in 2015 in their exhibition 'Reclining'

 

 

This has to be one of the most elegant recliners and one of the most stripped down and spare. It is simply a frame in sprung steel covered with a taut skin of woven cane and supported on the thinnest possible steel frame. 

There is a separate frame of steel that folds under the centre section of the seat - running parallel to the cane work but separated from it by spacers. This forms what looks like a sledge or from the side runners that rest on a simple frame … a third rectangle in flat steel strip but with the ends bent upwards but at an angle to form a cradle.

The round table PK54 designed by Kjærholm in1963 - with square frames in steel slotted together to form a cube - or the glass table PK61 designed in 1956 - with four L-shaped pieces of steel together forming a frame and legs - play the same intellectual game to produce sophisticated three-dimensional forms out of minimal elements … almost like an artist marking an edge or a shadow with a slightly heavier weight of line, to define a volume, and then obliterating everything else to rely just on that emphasis of the edge.

Here the use of cane is equally unique. Not the material itself, of course, but on all other furniture with cane work you are aware of a frame first that is filled in with a lattice of cane - the cane does not exist without the frame. On the PK24 you see first a sheet of woven cane and it is only when you look again that you work out what holds the curved form because without the steel, keeping that shape would be impossible. All that is visible of the steel frame of the seat and back is a small square of exposed metal at each corner.

The chair comes also in leather and the same holds true … you see first a swoosh of leather and then have to work out how that shape is formed and held.  

There is a leather covered head rest with both chairs but where other recliners have pillows held in place by knots or belts with buckles this head rest is a simple roll with a counterweight of steel on two straps slung over the top of the back rest.

 

 

designed by Poul Kjærholm (1929-1980)
PK24 made first by E Kold Christensen and then from 1982 by Fritz Hansen Eftf

steel, cane, leather-covered head rest

height: 87 cm
width: 67 cm
length: 155 cm

exhibition Reclining at Designmuseum Danmark in 2015

Fritz Hansen

 

Lilien / The Lily / FH3208 by Arne Jacobsen 1970

Chair 3208 in the collection of Designmuseum Danmark

 

 

3108 - an early version of the chair - was designed by Arne Jacobsen in 1961 but The Lily - or at least a first version of The Lily without arms - was shown at the Scandinavian Furniture Fair in Copenhagen in 1969 and the final form with arms was shown at the furniture fair the following year. The chair was also known as Mågen or The Sea Gull.

Clearly the Lily is related to the other shell chairs in plywood that Jacobsen designed - including The Ant from 1952 and the Series 7 chairs from1955 - but the Lily has a more marked shape with a much narrower waist between the seat and the back that was there to make possible a more pronounced curve of the shell. Carsten Thau and Kjeld Vindum, in their book on the work of Jacobsen,* suggest that this created so much tension in the shell that up to 75% that were made had to be rejected.

One version of the Series 7 Chair had narrow arm rests on what are almost stalks extending up from the back leg - a curious reinterpretation of the back post of a traditional chair in wood - but on the Lily Chair, the arm rests are exaggerated - almost flamboyant for Jacobsen - and make the chair more sculptural and much more dramatic.

Unlike so many of the his contemporaries, Jacobsen was an architect who designed furniture outside the world of the cabinetmakers … even Poul Kjærholm, the designer who moved his work furthest from traditional cabinetmaking and closest to engineering had started his training as an apprentice to a cabinetmaker in Gronbech in 1948.

Jacobsen showed his furniture just once at Cabinetmakers' Exhibition - in 1933 in collaboration with Fleming Lassen - and that was not a success with the critics. Perhaps this chair is the one from this period that is closest to industrial or product design and it is certainly a very good example of how Danish designers in the post-war period broke with all conventions for what a chair should look like or how it should be made.

note:

 * Arne Jacobsen, Carsten Thau and Kjeld Vindum, The Danish Architectural Press (2001)

 

designed by Arne Jacobsen (1902-1971)
made by Fritz Hansen

height: 76 cm
width: 60 cm
depth: 52 cm
height of seat: 44 cm