PART OF THE TOTAL DESIGN FORSAS Royal Hotel
Arne Jacobsen designed the AJ lamp in 1957, and a few years later it was part of his famous total interior design of the SAS Royal Hotel.
The sculptural AJ lamp from 1957 is one of Arne Jacobsen’s most iconic designs. It became famous as part of Arne Jacobsen’s elaborate total interior design of the SAS Royal Hotel (now Radisson Collection Royal Hotel) in the heart of Copenhagen. Here, in combination with the 3300 sofa series, it struck an angular, graphic contrast to the free, organic shapes of the Swan and the Egg.
Arne Jacobsen’s total design of the SAS Royal Hotel is now recognized as a principal accomplishment in Danish and international design history. In a contrast to the minimalist, rectilinear architecture, Arne Jacobsen designed the hotel interior as an elaborate gesamtkunstwerk with a rich display of architectural detailing, materials, patterns and colours. The AJ lamp was just one of the many custom-designed furnishings at the hotel, and like the Swan, the Egg and Series 3300, it has played a role in defining Danish furniture design for posterity.
The design exemplifies how Arne Jacobsen’s design practice aimed to achieve the most stringent and logical form. Since the 1920s, Arne Jacobsen had designed a wide range of table and floor lamps, including the Bellevue lamp from 1929 and the table lamp for Søllerød Town Hall from 1942. The design of the AJ lamp is based on the same basic figure, but the expression has been reduced to straight lines and straight and oblique angles, which combine to lend the lamp a taut, sculptural expression. Arne Jacobsen designed three versions of the lamp – a floor lamp, a table lamp and a wall lamp – and all three versions have remained in production by Louis Poulsen ever since the launch in the late 1950s.
The design exemplifies how Arne Jacobsen’s design practice aimed to achieve the most stringent and logical form.
The first time Arne Jacobsen used the AJ lamp in one of his total interior designs was at the international building exhibition Interbau in Berlin in 1957. Here, Arne Jacobsen built four detached houses, one of them was furnished by him during the exhibition period. Alongside several of his new designs from the 1950s, including Series 3300, Series 7 and the Grand Prix chair, the AJ lamp demonstrated modern Danish home design in 1957. Later, Arne Jacobsen used the lamp in many of the design concepts he composed for his architecture projects. In addition to the SAS Royal Hotel, the AJ lamp was also used at St. Catherine’s College in Oxford from 1964 and at Rødovre Library, a principal work of architecture from 1969.
The most famous of these accomplishments is Arne Jacobsen’s elaborate total design of the SAS Royal Hotel in 1960. The adjacent section housing the SAS airport terminal, where air travellers could wait for their plane’s departure in an exclusive and comfortable environment, opened the previous year, in 1959. Inside the terminal, the AJ lamp was installed alongside the sofa series 3300, which reflects the lamp’s oblique angles and straight lines. It was also part of the design of the hotel when it opened the following year. With its combination of ovals and straight lines, its profile formed a link connecting the hotel’s stringent architecture with furnishings based on free, organic curves.
Sources: Arne Jacobsen Design Archives. / Arne Jacobsen’s scrapbooks. The Royal Library – Danish Art Library. / Sheridan, M. (2003). Room 606: The SAS House and the Work of Arne Jacobsen. London: Phaidon Press. / Stenum Poulsen, K., Skaarup Larsen, A., & Staunsager, S. (2020). Arne Jacobsen – Designing Denmark. Kolding: Trapholt. / Thau, C., & Vindum, K. (1998). Arne Jacobsen. Copenhagen: Arkitektens Forlag.