Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Day 251, on which Arne Jacobsen maintains his place in John's mind as the high ruler of all things awesome [8.9.10]

Dag to hundrede énoghalvtreds. This week is going really slowly, for some reason. I then finally get a free evening, and have to take a trip to #tehlaegoez chatroom to work out what all this quitting is about on Flickr. It's not serious, or at least I don't think it is, but as usual #tehlaegoez dragged me in, and oh boy was I having fun being insulted on there. Fun fun fun. But it's good to be back on, talking to the lads and all that. Good good.

OK, our topic for today is the unstoppably cool Danish designer, Arne Jacobsen. Yes, he died in 1971, and yes, he was a total dick to work with (according to interviews with his colleagues), and yes, most of his furniture designs were simple scribbles and his assistants designed the details. But he is still a great designer. I think then, for the sake of showing what he loved the most, we should take a look at his architecture and interior design mainly.

Exhibit 1; Rødovre Town Hall. Designed back in the 60s. Classic retro modernism, clean lines, lots of repetition, and some splashes of colour for a bit of friendliness. You may think the vast plane of windows seems boring and office block-ish, but in the 60s it was the height of modernism. And, in its own Danish way, these windows do look pretty good. It's very flat, bland and 60s, but you have to expect it from Jacobsen. That was his style.

Another of Jacobsen's most famous designs is his stunning architecture in Danmarks Nationalbank, the headquarters of the Danish national bank (funnily enough). The outside is strikingly neat, clean and formal. Just what you'd expect from a bank, you see. It looks a lot like a vault, too. Gold and secure. That's what you want from a bank.

The interior of Danmarks Nationalbank is where Jacobsen really shows off. There's right angles everywhere, with beautiful lines and interaction between elements, for example the glassy staircase which looks as if it's lightly touching the varnished wooden floorboards like something from heaven. The green/brown/magenta colours look sleek, posh and appropriate.

Cute details like this, small things on a massive building, really appeal to me. Little shelters and places that you can shelter from the rain in. Also, the car is cool too.

Nothing shows off Jacobsen's luxurious designs in Danmarks Nationalbank more than the main hall, which rises the full six floors of the building. The lighting fills up the concrete-walled space, and the contrast between the bland walls and the splashes of comfort and interactivity (ie. the Swan chairs below). However, even if you were conversing in the chairs, you'll feel the vast space of the hall. It's very quiet; it almost says 'shush, respect the design' to you and you speak in hushed tones. The staircase is spacious (luxurious, yet again - in contrast to the utilitarian architecture, the interior design emanates some small feeling of comfort), and so provides you with space to check out the views and admire the hall. Shapes are kept to a strict geometry, but Arne splashes out with the simplified organic shapes of the Swan chairs. Not sure why, perhaps it seems too cold to sit in chairs with clean lines and right angles (eg. Serious 3300 from Jacobsen). Hmm.

More Jacobsen tomorrow, maybe.

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