The Egg

Furniture
1958
The Egg
The Egg

PART OF THE TOTAL DESIGN FORSAS Royal Hotel

The Egg
The Egg chair was a pivotal element in Arne Jacobsen’s elaborate interior design of the SAS Royal Hotel, and today the chair holds the same iconic status as the famous hotel itself.
YEAR:
1958
WORK OF ARCHITECTURE:
SAS Royal Hotel
DESIGN:
Arne Jacobsen
Photo: Stjernegaard Fotografi.

With its organic, sculptural form, the Egg is recognized as an iconic furniture design both in Denmark and around the world, with many considering it Arne Jacobsen’s principal design.

Together with the Swan, the Egg was a pivotal feature in Arne Jacobsen’s acclaimed interior design of the SAS Royal Hotel (now Radisson Collection Royal Hotel) from 1960. While the hotel exterior is characterized by minimalist, rectilinear precision, the elaborate total design that Arne Jacobsen created inside the hotel was a rich and diverse environment of forms, textures and sophisticated details. When the hotel opened in 1960, it was Copenhagen’s first skyscraper and a significant architectural additional to the area around Copenhagen’s Central Station. Over time, the Egg has attained at least the same iconic status as the famous hotel itself.

Drawing of the Egg shell. Photo: Royal Danish Library - Danish National Art Library.

The development of the chairs for the SAS Royal Hotel was based on a new technological approach. Instead of a steel frame and wood, the chairs were shaped in a hard foam material that was subsequently padded and upholstered. Furniture manufacturer Fritz Hansen secured the rights for this method in the mid 1950s, and Arne Jacobsen was the first designer to realize its full potential. In his development of the Ant during the early 1950s, Arne Jacobsen had begun to use plaster and clay in an experimental design process. Like a sculptor, he used these malleable materials to work out the characteristic shape of the Egg, creating a design with a harmonious sculptural expression that immediately earned it a central place in design history.

Sandor Perjesi (born 1940), model maker in Arne Jacobsen’s studio, recalls the time he worked with Arne Jacobsen on the Egg: ‘I remember the first time we went to a summer cottage near Tissø to work on the Egg. We crammed the plaster model into my car and spent an entire weekend adding and filing off material. Back and forth, like classic sculpting.’

Room at SAS Royal Hotel, approximately 1960. Photo: Arne Jacobsen. Original is found at the Royal Danish Library - Danish National Art Library.
The Egg
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The lobby of the SAS Royal Hotel around the time of the opening in 1960, when Egg chairs formed small enclaves. Photo: Aage Strüwing © Jørgen Strüwing.

Together with the Swan, the Egg was a pivotal feature in Arne Jacobsen’s acclaimed interior design of the SAS Royal Hotel from 1960.

The free curvature and sculptural expression of the Egg link it to the developments in the international design scene after the Second World War. American and European architects were using novel industrial methods and materials to develop a new design expression based on free, organic shapes. With designs like the Egg and the Swan, Arne Jacobsen was involved in defining this wave. By combining synthetic industrial materials with a Scandinavian grasp of the textural qualities and warmth of natural materials, he created several visionary furniture designs with a unique and personal expression.

Presentation of the furniture for the SAS Royal Hotel at the exhibition Formes Scandinaves in Paris 1958. Photo: Arne Jacobsen. Original is found at the Royal Danish Library - Danish National Art Library.

Right from the launch in 1958, the Egg and the Swan were greeted as international superstars, as suggested by the opening lines in the Danish newspaper Politiken’s coverage of the new designs in 1958: ‘There was a major do at Fritz Hansen’s furniture factory yesterday – almost like a catwalk show with spotlights, flash photography and VIP guests.’ Since then, the iconic Egg has become synonymous with exclusivity and style, and today, more than 60 years after its launch in 1958, the Egg still frequently graces the cover of fashion magazines the world over.

 

Sources: Arne Jacobsen Design Archives. / Arne Jacobsen’s drawings. The collection of architectural drawings, The Royal Library – Danish Art Library. / 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: Danish Architectural Press. / Tøjner, P. E., & Vindum, K. (1994). Arne Jacobsen: arkitekt & designer. Copenhagen: Dansk Design Center.

Room at SAS Royal Hotel around the time of the opening of the hotel. Photo: Aage Strüwing © Jørgen Strüwing.
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