One of the most iconic design pieces of the 20th century, Arne Jacobsen designed the Egg Chair in 1958 as part of a commission for the Radisson Blu Royal Hotel in Copenhagen, the first skyscraper in Denmark. The entire hotel was Jacobsen’s design and his vision was to create a building – and contents – that embodied his ideas about integrated architecture and design.
The Egg Chair’s shape was achieved using a sculpting technique that Jacobsen perfected at home in his garage. Distinctly modernist in scope, the Egg Chair’s curves provided a striking contrast to the building’s sharp geometric design – a block of flat surfaces made of glass and concrete that was dismissed by many critics at the time as an ugly blot on the Copenhagen skyline.
Despite the negative reviews, Jacobsen’s cutting edge furniture, textiles and wallpaper designs are still exceptionally popular today. Among his most recognisable creations are the Swan chair, the Dot stool and the Series 7 chair. But it’s the Egg, with its prominent place in popular culture that remains Jacobsen’s most famous design.
Below are just a few of the Egg Chair’s starring roles:
The Beatles Help! Video
In the scenes inside the Beatles’ house, the Egg Chair features in the cool blue room belonging to Ringo. The Beatles, one of the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed acts in the history of popular music, came to be perceived by fans and cultural observers as an embodiment of the ideals shared by the era’s revolutions. This meant that anything associated with the group was deemed to become a success, The Egg Chair, chosen to feature in one of their videos, was no exception.
A Space Odyssey
Stanley Kubrick used a number of Jacobsen’s most famous designs in his futuristic classic 2001: A Space Odyssey, including AJ cutlery, AJ Lamp and the Egg.
Austin Powers and Men in Black
Modern updates of the Egg Chair– featured in films such as Men In Black and the Austin Powers series. Simultaneously retro and futuristic in design, it makes both the perfect 1960s-style spy thriller and science fiction movie prop.
The evil fashion mogul Jacobim Mugatu – played by Will Ferrell in a memorable wig – sits on an Egg Chair in his office. The satirical film, based around fashion and all that it entails, ensures the feature of fashionable props and items throughout, selecting the Egg Chair for the powerful character of Mugatu is undoubtedly a nod to this chair’s iconic, fashionable design.
Egg Chairs featured heavily on the set of the comedy-drama television series Ugly Betty, starring America Ferrera in a fish-out-of-water role as a personal assistant to the editor of one of New York’s most high-profile fashion magazines.
Lucky Number Slevin
The Egg Chair was used as a prop in the 2006 crime thriller starring Josh Hartnett, Morgan Freeman, Bruce Willis and Lucy Liu.
In 2007, the fast food chain McDonald’s redesigned a number of its flagship restaurants to give them a more relaxed and upscale feel. A version of the Egg Chair was among the new designs that featured in these brighter, more sophisticated McDonald’s restaurants in cities such as New York and London.
The lasting power of the Egg Chair design is a testament to Jacobsen’s unique vision, and the Egg Chair has been copied many times over the years and sold in many different versions. Manufactured by Danish furniture company the Republic of Fritz Hansen, the original design Egg Chairs sell for several thousand pounds, although cheaper copies are available for much less.
This article is brought to you by The Conran Shop, a contemporary furniture retailer, specialising in authentic designer pieces, including The Egg Chair, among others.
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