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When Furniture is Art

Aug 9, 2008
A Chair is a chair. Right? Well not always. A chair a lot more than a chair when is was designed by one of the great artists of modern times. And many of the most popular and inspiring chair designs of the last several decades were designed by accomplished artists who also turned out to have a terrific eye for the form and function of a modern chair.

The unique chair designs of Arne Jacobsen are a perfect example of when furniture serves the double duty as a functional chair and a beautiful and visually stimulating work of art as well. Jacobson is the type of artist that you would call a renaissance man because he was successful in many different genres of art. In fact, before becoming an accomplished furniture designer, Arne Jacobson had great success in architecture. Some of his architectural triumphs include the St. Catherine's College, the design of Oxford university and at Merton College as well as his work on the Royal Copenhagen Hotel and the National Bank of Denmark in Copenhagen. These are just the most outstanding of many buildings that Jacobsen's artistic vision influenced.

Even though Arne Jacobsen's creative work occurred in the mid 20th century, the chair designs he brought to life showed he was ahead of his time in vision for how art could embrace function in the chair designs he innovated. In fact, his futuristic designs for chairs are in step with the visionaries of science fiction and those who visualized the future world. Many futuristic movies have incorporated furniture designs by Jacobson to give the impression of an advanced and sophisticated wold of the future.

Several of Arne Jacobsen's chair designs have become incorporated into the world of classical art including a chair very simply named The Number 7 chair which was used by the popular artist Lewis Morale as part of a portrait he painted. That influence on other genre's of art is one reason that many of Jacobsen's chair designs have reached the status of classics in the design world and have become so well regarded by scholars in the area of furniture design.

When you go to museums such as the Metropolitan Museum in New York, you don't have to look very far to find examples of outstanding furniture design that is on display from different eras of history around the world. So when you admire classic examples of chair design from Elizabethan periods or early American sections of the museum, its easy to appreciate the genius of a furniture designer like Arne Jacobsen. And its easy to envision that many of his best chair designs will find themselves into museums around the world when the 20th century is one to be honored and documented for the vision of the artists of the time.

The vision of Jacobsen's chair design reflects a love of the natural elegance of nature. This is a natural reflection of his training as an architect which is one which focuses on making modern buildings reflect the design perfection of the natural world often times. The forms suggested by the most famous of Arne Jacobsen's designs are very much in that genre, especially his most famous chair designs of The Ant, The Swan and The Egg. In fact, The Egg design is one that has become commonly incorporated into movies that are of a futuristic scene including a funny scene in the move Men in Black as various secret agents try to fill out application forms sitting in an Egg designed chair.

Jacobsen's versatility of design was not confined just to architecture and furniture. His artistic vision can also be found in designs he developed for cutlery and wallpaper as well in the area of textiles. In fact, it was a Jacobsen design of cutlery that was used in the futuristic movie 2001 A Space Oddity to show how people living in space might eat. This ability to cast a vision of a more sophisticated world is typical of the genius of Arne Jacobsen.

But of the many artistic creations we have as a legacy of the work of Arne Jacobsen, it is probably the Egg Chair that is the one that is the most striking and recognizable to many people. Its a style that fits into so many decors not only in private homes but in restaurants and hotels who are seeking a modern look that is stylish, a bit over the top and yet sophisticated at the same time.
Jacobsen's designs will certainly continue to be used by artists who are looking to create a futuristic design for other medium including paintings, film, television and movies. In fact, not long ago on the famous television show Saturday Night Live, a skit used futuristic designs of chairs in a humorous piece in which a family in the future shows the post peculiar tastes in food, entertainment and furniture. And while the chairs in this sketch are virtually unusable, the humor is appreciated and it is a reflection on the enjoyment we get from very creative approaches to design such as Arne Jacobsen was known for.

These many references in art and popular culture will make it easy to recognize the Jacobsen influence when you are shopping for chairs for a very specific kind of decor. And while the sleek and rounded designs that made history when Jacobsen innovated them can seem a little cold and exotic, in the right setting with some skilled interior decorating, they can create a look in the living room or den that is at the same time modern and warm all at once. So the Ant, Egg and Swan designs deserve a look whether your decoration challenge is a home setting or one of a restaurant, bar, coffee shop or hotel. Jacobsen's design concepts fit equally well in all of these settings.

Since Jacobsen innovated the design, there have been many adaptations that use the basic egg approach but to add stylization to it to fit it into a particular decor and to take the design further into even more artistic expression of that same basic concept. It is common in art for one inspiration to foster others and to mold and shape how art evolves. So when you see very modernistic designs of chairs that may very much reflect the basic egg, swan and ant styles that originated with Arne Jacobsen, you can now appreciate how this versatile Renaissance man from Denmark changed the way we all see furniture in many ways right up to modern times.
About the Author
To view over 2,000 contract furniture products including bistro and cafe furniture, bar and hotel furniture please visit http://www.laytrad.co.uk/bar-tables-chairs.htm and http://www.laytrad.co.uk/commercial-bistro-chairs.htm
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