Originally designed forSøllerød Town Hall
Arne Jacobsen and Flemming Lassen’s design of the Mayor Sofa from around 1942 combines the Danish furniture tradition with a new functionalist expression.
Arne Jacobsen and Flemming Lassen’s (1902-1984) Mayor Sofa was designed in 1942 as part of the furnishings for Søllerød Town Hall (now Rudersdal Town Hall). The design is an example of the architects’ ability to unify the Danish furniture tradition, dating back to Kaare Klint (1888-1954), with a new, functionalist expression.
In 1939, Arne Jacobsen and Flemming Lassen won the competition for a building complex commissioned by Søllerød Municipality that would include a town hall, a library and a cinema. Due to the German occupation of Denmark, the project had to be scaled down, but despite the challenging circumstances, Arne Jacobsen and Flemming Lassen were able to realize the town hall and create a comprehensive work of architecture, in which the architects created both the building itself and its coherent and richly detailed interior. The Mayor sofa was designed as part of this holistic combination of colours, exclusive materials and custom-designed furnishings.
Today, we often associate Arne Jacobsen with the industrially produced, modernist furniture he designed during the decades after the Second World War. Unlike these designs, the furniture that Arne Jacobsen and Flemming Lassen designed for Søllerød Town Hall were custom-made pieces in the Danish cabinetmaking tradition and were only made in small numbers. Among the furniture at the town hall, the Mayor sofa stands out, its clear lines and highly simplified form anticipating the innovative designs that would earn Arne Jacobsen world renown. In 1942, just two of the sofas were produced for the town hall, but in 2013 it was relaunched by the furniture manufacturer &Tradition.
Arne Jacobsen and Flemming Lassen were part of the avant-garde of functionalist architecture that emerged in Denmark during the interwar years. While their earliest joint projects continued the radical spirit that was typical of international modernism, Søllerød Town Hall represents a quieter Nordic functionalism, based on local materials and Danish craft traditions. Throughout, the building is characterized by carefully designed details, exclusive materials and quality craftsmanship.
The Mayor sofa similarly combines tradition and renewal. The design clearly reveals the influence from Kaare Klint, who taught at the Furniture School of the Royal Danish Academy and shaped a generation of Denmark’s most prominent future designers and architects. Kaare Klint’s principles of exquisite materials, finely crafted details and a clear design are evident in the Mayor sofa, which was originally made in leather and mahogany at the legendary Copenhagen cabinetmaking studio Rud. Rasmussen. The architects combined this influence with the functionalist simplification of form and construction. The conversion of seat and back into a single, curved seating shell and the visual separation of seating function and frame are characteristic of Arne Jacobsen’s design aesthetic and his interpretation of functionalism in general.
Sources: Arne Jacobsen Design Archives. / Arne Jacobsen’s drawings. The collection of architectural drawings, The Royal Library – Danish Art Library. / Kural, R. (2018). The Town Hall at the Edge of the Forest: About Søllerød Town Hall Designed by Arne Jacobsen and Flemming Lassen. Humlebæk: Rhodos. / 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.