Swan Chair
Denmark, 1957
Arne Jacobsen

Fritz Hansen
Dyed leather, aluminum, cut and sheet-molded plastic
30½ × 27 × 30”

The furniture of Danish designer Arne Jacobsen illustrates the more individual and aesthetic character of Scandinavian design post-World War II. Jacobsen’s best-known designs for Fritz Hansen include the Ant chair, the Series 7 chair, the Egg chair, and the Swan chair. Like the Egg chair, the Swan chair relies on organic forms and provides a deep cavity to sit in, and wing-like projections. It invokes the psychology of comfort, as well as concerns for ergonomics. Beyond this, however, the Swan chair demonstrates the sculptural possibilities of modern industrial materials, such as aluminum and molded plastic. In this sense, Jacobsen’s designs represent the intersection of technology and art.

In addition to the Swan chair, Jacobsen also designed the Swan sofa. The two Swan designs, together with Jacobsen’s Egg chair, were used in his design for the SAS Royal Hotel in Copenhagen, for which Jacobsen was the architect. The chair permitted guests to spin on its swivel base, thereby becoming active participants in the busy hotel atmosphere. The Swan chair is now considered a quintessential symbol of Danish Modern design; it has been in continuous production since 1958. —Cooper Hewitt

(Photo: Cooper Hewitt)