Charlottenborg Chair

Furniture
1936
Charlottenborg Chair
The light, modern expression of the Charlottenborg chair from 1936 matched the new, functionalist Danish homes of the 1930s.
YEAR:
1936
WORK OF ARCHITECTURE:
Charlottenborg
DESIGN:
Arne Jacobsen

During the 1920s, Danish architects took an interest in wicker furniture, which offered an alternative to the padded living room suites with heavy wooden frames that were common at the time. In lightweight materials, such as bamboo and rattan, Arne Jacobsen saw an opportunity to create light, modern furniture that matched the new functionalist houses he was designing during the 1920s and 1930s.

The Charlottenborg chair was not designed for a specific building but takes its name from the Charlottenborg Spring Exhibition, where it was exhibited in 1937. Arne Jacobsen used it in the design of the Danish pharmaceutical company Novo’s diabetes sanatorium ‘Hvidøre’ and also had several of the chairs in his private home, both in his summer cottage at Gudmindrup Lyng, from 1938, and later in his terraced house at Strandvejen 413.

Charlottenborg Chair
Manufactured by
The summer cottage at Gudmindrup Lyng, which Arne Jacobsen designed for himself and his family in 1938. Photo: Arne Jacobsen. Original is found at the Royal Danish Library – Danish National Art Library.

Its curvy forms echo the lines of the padded easy chairs Arne Jacobsen was designing around this time, but the material lends the Charlottenborg Chair a very different functionality and a lighter expression.

The wicker chair from 1936 is light in both expression and weight. Its curvy forms echo the lines of the padded easy chairs Arne Jacobsen was designing around this time, but the material lends the Charlottenborg Chair a very different functionality and a lighter expression. Its arched back is shaped as a thin, open shell and framed by bamboo cane, which is also used to form the chair’s open armrests. While the interwar Charlottenborg chairs were typically upholstered with floral fabric, matching the contemporary taste, they are now produced by SIKA Design with monochrome fabric. Arne Jacobsen also preferred monochrome cushions in the Charlottenborg chairs he used in his own home.

The raised living room in the summer cottage at Gudmindrup Lyng, where Arne Jacobsen used the Charlottenborg chair and the accompanying table. Photo: Private.

In 1938, Arne Jacobsen designed a summer residence for himself and his family on the west coast of Zealand. The house realized many of the architectural ideas of the time and was built in a close interplay with the undulating dune landscape and with careful consideration for the life unfolding both inside and out. The Charlottenborg chairs and the accompanying table stood in the raised living room, which had an open-plan connection with the ground floor and overlooked Sejerø Bay. However, Arne Jacobsen was rarely found lounging indoors. When he was staying there, he spent most of his time outdoors in the surrounding landscape, painting watercolours or photographing the local plant life.

 

Sources: Arne Jacobsen Design Archives. / Arne Jacobsen’s scrapbooks. The Royal Library – Danish Art Library. / Stenum Poulsen, K., Skaarup Larsen, A., & Staunsager, S. (2020). Arne Jacobsen – Designing Denmark. Kolding: Trapholt.  / Thau, C., & Vindum, K. (1998). Arne Jacobsen. Copenhagen: Danish Architectural Press.

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