a special edition of The Egg

my thanks to staff of Fritz Hansen in Valkendorfsgade in Copenhagen for allowing me to photograph the chair and for the time we spent discussing the work of Jacobsen and the designs and colours of the Hallingdal range

 

The Egg in suede at the Copenhagen store but showing clearly the same strong and more sculptural look seen when the chair is covered with leather

To mark the anniversary of The Egg - Arne Jacobsen designed the chair for the SAS Royal Hotel in Copenhagen in 1958 - Fritz Hansen have released a special version covered in the Kvadrat fabric called Hallingdal that was designed by Nanna Ditzel in 1965 … a textile that is not as well known or as easily recognised outside Denmark but, like the chair itself, a design classic that has been in continuous production since it was launched. 

Although I can’t know the real figures, there is a very good chance that more people have sat on a chair covered with Hallingdal - without realising what they were sitting on - than have sat in an Egg chair … in the late 60s and through the 1970s for its well-deserved reputation for being hardwearing and for the range of colours it was the go-to fabric for upholstery for commercial seating for office chairs, chairs for schools, and seating for doctors’ and hospital waiting rooms.

It was a revelation seeing the chair covered in Hallingdal in the Copenhagen showroom of Fritz Hansen. 

Now we tend to know The Egg in the version covered in leather emphasising the bold sculptural quality of the design and often making the piece in a room a sort of statement of status. However, covered in a fabric, particularly in a soft natural colour, the chair immediately looks more subtle, more discrete, more inviting and comfortable and, curiously, smaller.

Initially, Jacobsen wanted these chairs in the hotel to be covered with leather but for fairly obvious economic reasons had to agree that chairs used in hotel rooms would be covered in fabric. He designed a relatively heavy fabric in a mix of the deep blue and green shades he often used but also gave it a stronger texture with distinct wavy lines through the weave.

The Hallingdal fabric is actually a bit of a chameleon for it takes on very different characteristics depending on the combination of colours … in natural greys or browns or creams used in combination then it looks like a Harris Tweed but with contrasting colours for warp and weft it gains a sharp pin or small check pattern that is quite sassy and in strong bold single colours - for instance a strong red - then an Egg can look just as powerful and assertive as when the chair is covered with leather.

This shows that even when a form is as bold and as distinctive as The Egg, colour and texture are incredibly important in reinforcing the character of the design or modifying it and toning it down.

note:
I understand this special edition is currently available only in Denmark

Kvadrat

Republic of Fritz Hansen

 

Dine, Drink, Daze & Dream - at Moltkes Palæ for 3daysofdesign

 

Elephant Chair designed for NORR11 by Kristian Sofus Hansen and manufactured by Kvist Industries

 

For 3daysofdesign, Træ- og møbelindustrien or the Association of Danish Wood and Furniture Industries took over the main rooms on the street frontage of Moltkes Palæ on Bredgade in the centre of Copenhagen.

It was good to see the work of the serious side of the furniture industry with stands here representing the work of Cane-line; HUBE, Kvist Industries, Magnus Olesen, Møbelsnedkeri Kjeldtoft; PP Møbler; Skovby Møbler; Re Nature Beds; Republic of Fritz Hansen and WON. This was the crucial but, shall we say, the less hyped and primped up part of the industry.

As some of the style journalists or bloggers rush from venue to venue taking square pictures of the amazing plates of finger food and grab another glass of booze, they might do well to remember that these are the factories that make the furniture that sits under the label. That's not to say this was all about fork-lift trucks and export paperwork … it was styled by the design studio All the Way to Paris and certainly did not look like a trade show … but what was shown very clearly was exactly the same passion and enthusiasm for design and for high-quality production that is the hall mark of the Danish furniture industry as it developed through the 1950s.

NO1 - new chair from Fritz Hansen designed by Nendo

 

Fritz Hansen were here but with a simple stand that just showed the chair they have just launched - Chair NO1 by the designer Nendo. This is an interesting chair that has a beautiful and very elegant curved seat and plain curved back in laminated wood on a relatively traditional frame in turned and joined wood that, in terms of style, is a hybrid of traditional Japanese and Danish forms. This was not a display for the glamour life-style magazines but appropriately something to show to fellow manufacturers.

PP Møbler showed a desk by Wegner and an office chair - the 502 - designed by Hans Wegner. They did not need to show more … every manufacturer here would know the catalogue of PP Møbler … but again it was all about meeting fellow professionals for what is in part a social event and in part a way of entertaining established clients and a venue for making new business contacts. Even if you are only slightly interested in the workings of what is behind the branded stores this is fascinating.

PP Møbler is not a furniture factory but are still a major workshop of cabinetmakers. They have to be commercially astute to survive but, for them, a core element is  maintaining the system of training and apprenticeships … after all, the life-blood of the Danish industry.

That's not to suggest that the other companies are production-line factories and there is a fascinating symbiotic relationship between these manufacturers, the design companies they serve; established designers, working either in house or working independently; and the young designers and the young furniture makers coming up through the system.

Talking to the representative from Kvist, I was asking about the Elephant chair that they manufacture for the design company NORR11, when the team from NORR11 arrived and there was a brief opportunity to talk to Kristian Sofus Hansen who designed the chair. I hope to be able to do a longer profile on this chair which could be a place to discuss how a design evolves and to explore that crucial relationship between designer, design company and manufacturer.

 

The Pot chair by Arne Jacobsen to be relaunched

 

At the Stockholm Furniture Fair in February, The Republic of Fritz Hansen will relaunch the Pot Chair that was designed by Arne Jacobsen in 1959 for the SAS Royal Hotel in Copenhagen.

Fritz Hansen manufactured the original furniture for the hotel including, of course, the famous Egg Chair and the Swan Chair. What now strikes me as incredible is that Jacobsen, with a relatively small design office, worked not only on the building itself - a large, complex building - a high concrete tower using what were then new construction techniques in Scandinavia - but he also designed textiles, cutlery and glassware for the restaurants and an amazing and distinctive range of furniture including bedside cupboards and desks and other fixed furniture in the hotel rooms but also this chair, the Pot Chair, that was used in the bars and lounges of the hotel, and square, almost wedge shaped, upholstered arm chairs and sofas on thin steel legs that he designed for the airport departure lounge attached to the hotel - the 3300 series - another chair that also deserves to be better known. 

Republic of Fritz Hansen

1958 was a good year for design

the display at Designmuseum Danmark in Copenhagen with the three famous chairs that Arne Jacobsen designed in 1958 for the SAS Royal Hotel with the floor-standing lamp from the same year

 

This year - through 2018 - Fritz Hansen will mark the 60th anniversary of the furniture designed by Arne Jacobsen for the SAS Royal Hotel in Copenhagen.

The Egg and The Swan were shown to the public for the first time at the Formes Scandinaves exhibition at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris in November 1958 and at the showroom of Fritz Hansen in January 1959. The hotel was completed and opened in 1960.

Furniture was produced by Fritz Hansen for the 275 rooms and for the public spaces of the hotel - perhaps the most significant contract for any major modern furniture company. 

Fritz Hansen has just released a limited edition of The Egg and there will be anniversary editions of The Drop chair in September and of The Swan in December.

The hotel is one of the most important examples of what German critics describe usefully as Gesamtkunstwerk or total design. These chairs, on their own, would be considered as outstanding designs but Jacobsen, with a small design team - the studio was in his own home - produced the designs for the building; the interior designs for complex public spaces including the lobby with its circular staircase and the large transit hall for the airline; designs for all the architectural hardware including door handles and stair rails; a phenomenal range of furniture including several other chairs, tables, bedside cupboards; rugs; light fittings and even the glassware, silverware and cutlery for the dining room. A truly remarkable achievement.

Republic of Fritz Hansen

new Fritz Hansen design store

Fritz Hansen have just completed work on a major project in the centre of the city and have opened a new show room in an historic town house as part of the redevelopment of former post office buildings.

Republic of Fritz Hansen Valkendorfsgade 4, 1115 Copenhagen K

The company had offices and display space at Pakhus48 in the north harbour but this will be the first time that Fritz Hansen have themselves had a retail space in the city.

Fritz Hansen has concept stores in Oslo, Stockholm, London, Milan New York and Tokyo.