Background & school relations
At Nærum Boarding School, he met the Lassen brothers; later, Flemming Lassen was to become his partner in a series of architectural projects. Arne Jacobsen was described as a restless pupil, always up to pranks, and often with a self-deprecating humour. Already as a child, he showed an extraordinary talent for drawing and depicting nature through scrupulous studies. Originally, Jacobsen wanted to be painter, but his father felt that architect was a more sensible choice, and that is how it was. Nevertheless, Jacobsen later had ample opportunity to paint and to express his ideas through highly accurate drawings.
The Pleasant and the necessary trips abroad
Jacobsen’s travelling began already in his twenties, when he went to sea. The voyage, the only one in his career as a sailor, went to New York. Then followed an apprenticeship as a bricklayer in Germany and a series of study and drawing excursions to Italy. During this period, Jacobsen produced some of his finest watercolours with classic motifs, where he captures atmospheres and renders materials and shapes accurately and carefully. From the beginning of his career, Jacobsen turned his gaze abroad, without ever abandoning Denmark or the Danish traditions in his field.
Arne Jacobsen behind the design
In summarising Jacobsen as a person, one arrives at a picture that reflects to a high degree the nuances in his purely professional production: On the one hand the insistent, perfectionist modernist, to whom no detail was trivial, although the main picture was basically black/white and unambiguous. On the other hand, the nature-loving botanist and jovial family man. Overall, the professionalism and almost nerdy passion for his work are indispensable aspects in descriptions of Jacobsen - including his own descriptions.
Or consider at a distance as stars on the international design stage. When Jacobsen was not working, he worked nevertheless - only with something else. To him, relaxation meant a shift to another project in the creative realm. This is what enabled such an enormous output with no compromises on quality.
More than ever, Arne Jacobsen’s design is a distinct part of the image that our surroundings and, gradually, we too, have of the core of the Danish design identity.
The best designs have long since passed on to ’The Hall of Famous Objects’, where the reasons and causes behind the design need not be questioned, and where the success story is a case of world-class branding; 20th century icons and timeless, classic elegance. Everything has been said, and everything analysed - or is there still more to be said?
The idea as the point of departure: From the complex to the very simple. With a relatively small studio staff, Jacobsen mastered the range from large, complex building projects (like Danmarks Nationalbank) to the teaspoon in his cutlery. Throughout this range lay a consideration of every detail in the total design of the building, which was the invisible force that drove him to his goals. The goal required a huge work effort: The idea may have been strong from the outset, but nevertheless appeared vague to Jacobsen, until he had worked them out and defined the design thoroughly - not without the assistance of close associates.
The distinct accuracy and striking likeness of his drawings with the end-result, especially of many of his watercolours of buildings, reflects his ability to bring ideas to life. Jacobsen originally wanted to be a painter, and this is especially evident in the level of ambition in his presentation drawings.