Arne Jacobsen Centennial Celebration

by | 29. Aug 2012

Exhibitions and Events

Photo: Julius ShulmanJacobsen in front of the SAS Royal Hotel in 1959

When the SAS Royal Hotel was inaugurated, a magazine held a competition for the ugliest building in town, and I won 1st prize for the SAS building.
/Arne Jacobsen, Interview in Politiken 1971.

Times have changed… Today Arne Jacobsen’s architecture and design is admired world wide and Denmark is celebrating the centennial of his birth with exhibitions, publications, symposiums and many other events.

Arne Jacobsen mastered the range from large, complex building projects to the smallest spoon in a cutlery series. He had a holistic approach and worked with complete design solutions long before this concept was invented. The story goes that he presented his designs for furnishing the Royal Hotel before his architectural drawings of the building were finalized, thus securing a contract for designing the interior as well as the exterior of the Copenhagen landmark.

The SAS Royal Hotel Lobby (1960’s)The Arne Jacobsen Centennial started at the Danish Design Centre on February 11th, Jacobsen’s birthday, with the opening of the exhibition “Evergreens and Nevergreens”

Arne Jacobsen: “Evergreens and Nevergreens”
Danish Design Centre
Copenhagen, Denmark

Photo courtesy FH archiveAdvertisement (1958)

Evergreens are the classics – Nevergreens are the prototypes that were in production or products made for only a short time
/Lene Tanghøj, curator Danish Design Centre

Photo courtesy FH archiveAnt chairs (1952)

The exhibition takes a close look at the duality of Arne Jacobsen’s personality, comprising both the insistent perfectionist modernist, to whom no detail was trivial, and the nature-loving botanist and watercolor artist.

Photo: StrüwingJacobsen in his garden

Photo courtesy KABSingle Family House (1940’s) watercolor
Examples of Jacobsen’s working process, from initial sketches through production all the way to completion, demonstrates Jacobsen’s vision and unique working methods.

Photo courtesy KABTexaco Service Station (1937) watercolor

Photo: StrüwingTexaco Service Station North of Copenhagen (1937)

He left his mark on everything, from the overall plans to the design of outdoor gardens and courts, interiors, furniture and lighting – in some cases right down to the smallest details, such as textiles, sign boards, door handles and flatware.

AJ cutlery early pencil sketch

Manufacturer GrantexEmperor’s Crown textile (1946)

Included in the exhibition are interviews, film clips, photographs and quotes.

The exhibition is on view through June 2, 2002.

Arne Jacobsen – Absolutely Modern
Louisiana Museum
Humlebæk, Denmark

The grand finale of the Arne Jacobsen Centennial, a major retrospective, opened at the Louisiana Museum on August 30, 2003.

Photo: Julius ShulmanJacobsen in front of the SAS Royal Hotel in 1959

The Louisiana retrospective covers a comprehensive cross section of Arne Jacobsen’s artistic output. Starting with his background in terms of role models, traditions and sources of inspiration, the exhibition traces his development through his own photographs and watercolor studies of architecture and nature, made on travels in Denmark and around Europe, demonstrating how he absorbed and transformed current trends into a unique style of his own.

Photo courtesy KABInterior for House of Industry watercolor (1964)

The aim of the Retrospective is to present Arne Jacobsen’s work in all of its facets; to draw a complete portrait of this “total” designer who, preoccupied with the idea of “gesamtkunstwerk”, wanted to leave his mark on everything; from  architecture and the entire field of design to landscaped gardens, service stations and lifeguard towers.

Drawing courtesy KABDrawing for House of the Future (1929)

Through four decades, from 1930 to 1970, the cultural history of Danish architecture and design will unfold through Jacobsen’s designs.

Photo: Arne JacobsenBellavista, Klampenborg (1931 – 34)

Almost every time I design a building somebody will condemn it straight to Hell. In 1934, when Stelling’s House was finished, a newspaper wrote that I ought to be banned from architecture for life.
/Arne Jacobsen, Interview in Politiken 1971.

The Bellavista housing complex (1931-38) in Klampenborg, a resort complex north of Copenhagen, included beach cabanas, the Bellevue Theater and a restaurant, “Jacobsen”, that was recently restored and fitted with Jacobsen’s furniture and cutlery.

Photo: StrüwingThe Bellevue Theater, Klampenborg (1937)

Photo: StrüwingBeach Cabanas, Klampenborg (1932)

Visitors will also experience Jacobsen’s sense of space, material and form in a more tangible, sensual way through the latest audio-visual and computer-based technology and scenographic installations of Jacobsen’s work; including the famous Room 606 at the SAS Royal Hotel.

Photo: ©Kim AhmRoom 606SAS Royal Hotel (1955 – 60)

Finally, a contemporary interpretation of the special qualities of Jacobsen’s work is presented by three Internationally known architecture firms; SANAA from Japan, Gigon/Guyer from Switzerland, and Dominique Perrault/Gaëlle Lauriot-Prévost from France.

A comprehensive Jacobsen book is now also available in English and German. The authors, professor Carsten Thau and associate professor, architect Kjeld Vindum, worked on the book, the largest ever written about Arne Jacobsen, for ten years, constantly discovering new aspects of this natural talent that had to be investigated. The first section describes his life, inspirations and results, while the second part contains detailed analyses of selected works.

Photo: Dissing + WeitlingThe only fixed place in the Lobby of the National Bank of Denmark (1965 – 71) is a stairway of glass and steel.


Jacobsen had total control of all phases of the architecture process, from the first conceptual ideas to the design of the most simple hardware. This complete mastery, combined with a virtuosity unparalleled in Danish architecture is clearly revealed in this enormous book, which can be considered the most exhaustive treatment of the subject possible at this time.

The book is supplemented with a list of projects and an extensive index.
Available in English, German or Danish.

Many Jacobsen designs are still produced by the original manufacturers. Companies like Carl F A/S (door handles), Djob A/S (writing desks and tables), Fritz Hansen A/S (furniture), Louis Poulsen Lighting (lamps), Royal Scandinavia A/S (tabletop products), Stelton A/S (tabletop), and Vola A/S (fittings) make original Jacobsen designs, once intended for specific buildings and now available for home and commercial use.