Thursday, 9 September 2010

Day 252, on which John looks over more of Arne Jacobsen's work [9.9.10]

Dag to hundrede tooghalvtreds. This week's not been that bad, actually. As first weeks of the year go, it's not bad at all. Good. Good good. Sure, it's been slow, but my homework has been light/non-existent since the start of the week so woot. I've been working more on that story tonight. The idea is that, like Bart De Dobbelaer's stories, it will be in small parts and each part will be illustrated with Lego. Except, unlike Bart's chapters, mine will be a bit longer and the Lego illustrations will be in-depth scenes, not vignettes. Also, they'll be better, heh heh. No really, the story is developing really well. I just need to get it finished, then I can start building.

Before we begin, take a good long look at this man. This is Arne Jacobsen. Pronounced ar-nee ya-kob-sǝn. Danish designer. Died in 1971. Had awesome glasses (clearly), was a bit fat (acknowledged it) and scribbled most of his furniture designs. That's him in a nutshell. I see a Series 7 chair poking out from behind him there. He's so cool he sits in his own chairs. As for the pipe, that's more subjective.

Today we'll be focusing mainly on Jacobsen's only project in the UK, St Catherine's College in Oxford University. It's a large complex that Jacobsen designed and built over many years. He took several trips to Oxford to ask for more and more money off the clients to spend on the building. His designs for moulded concrete pillars extending in three dimensions were seen as insane by the backward Brits, but Jacobsen kept trying and eventually he got his way. Woo.

Here's an annoyingly blurry picture of the main hall of St Catherine's College. You can see - vaguely - the massive concrete girders that caused the arguments between Jacobsen and his clients. They're an impressive, strong, heavy element in the design. Repetition is key in architecture, especially that of Jacobsen's. Then we have an elegant chair of Arne's in the foreground (can't remember the name). It's made of one single piece of steam-bent wood, in a beautiful shape. The high back, which Jacoben doesn't do much, is so effective here. It's formal, plain and functional. It offers you some safety and support, which is just what Oxford students need. The base, like many of Jacobsen's, is a little dull, but he believe a chair was a shell which sat on a base so bases weren't what he focused on. In a way, it's good that most of Jacobsen's chairs are just different shells and seats on the same base. Brushed stainless steel never hurt anybody.

Let's not forget Arne Jacobsen's Series 3300 chairs, which are on the right in this picture here. I must say I don't agree with the placement of them right next to The Swan on the left; there's too much contrast between the aluminum tubing and sharp lines of the Series 3300 and the subtle curves of The Swan. The two are designed for different settings; one formal and geometric, the other informal, comfortable and curvy.

Here's a better picture of those chairs, though not in the same room. You can see the girders infiltrate every interior of the college, which is good because running architectural motifs are so in at the moment. Google search dutifully tells me that the chairs are called Oxford Task Chairs. Good name. You can also see the probably-mahogany wood they're made of. Mmmmm. No corners, just one swift curve of wood. Nom nom nom.

I'll leave you with this dramatic shot of one of the student rooms in St Catherine's College. Spot the Jacobsen chair! And the sleek windows and architecture at the top there. Now scroll up and look at that photo of Jacobsen again. Tell him his designs are great. Say it out loud. Say it to his face.

Heh. nighty night,

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