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Design classics: The Egg Chair

March 8, 2010

[tweetmeme]Designed over 50 years ago The Egg Chair has become one of the most iconic pieces of furniture ever designed. The chair was designed in 1958 by the Danish designer Arne Jacobsen to be used in the lobby and reception areas for the opening of the Royal Hotel in Copenhagen when it opened in 1960. Jacobsen had specified everything for the 22 floor hotel. His philosophy was described as “from spoon to city” as his brief included the furniture, the exterior and even the cutlery still used today in the hotel’s restaurant. The hotel quickly became a landmark destination in Copenhagen and catapulted Jacobsen to a place in Designer Sainthood.

The Egg Chair is simple in its design and is widely believed to have been inspired by the Womb Chair designed 10 years earlier by his fellow Scandinavian designer, Eero Saarinens. Jacobsen cast the original chair in plaster in his garage and it embraced his design principles of simplicity and form. The chair cocoons the sitter in their own private space within the fabric of the furniture and the classic 4-star aluminium base allows the seat to both recline and swivel.

The success of the Egg Chair and the widespread critical acclaim for the design and specification of the Royal Hotel lead to many further commissions for Jacobsen. He was chosen by St Catherine’s College, Oxford to design the college buildings and as for the Royal Hotel his brief included not only the structure of the building and furniture but also included cutlery used today by college scholars.  The Egg chair was joined by other classics included The Swan, Series 7 chair and the Ant chair.

The Egg Chair is produced today under licence by Fritz Hansen and affectionately known to them as Product code 3316 and it can be complemented with Product code 3127, the Egg foot stool. Each Egg Chair is hand stitched by a craftsman, and is currently available in a wide range of fabrics and 10 colours of leather.  Today original Egg Chairs can be found in interiors all over the world including the Gerkin building in London and the Sydney Opera House.

McDonalds upset Fritz Hansen in 2008 when it commissioned them to manufacture a special edition of the Egg for its refurbished store in the UK and following an initial order for 2,500 chairs chose to use reproduction copies of the chair in the rest of the stores.  Due to the copyright laws in the UK McDonalds had done nothing illegal as copyrights expire after 25 years but Fritz Hansen was disappointed that a company who has pursued copyright suits worldwide would choose to furnish their restaurants with cheaper reproductions. These reproduction copies can be now seen in McDonalds on every high street in the UK.

In 2009 Fritz Hansen released a special edition of just 999 Chocolate Brown coloured Egg chairs to celebrate the 50th anniversary.  The chairs are finished in chocolate brown leather on the front and chocolate brown suede to the back, and all engraved with a unique number under the seat.

An Egg Couch was also designed but failed to become a regular product as it could not be made from two entire cow-hides and therefore requiring visible stitching, a feature the detail conscious Jacobsen would never allow.  The Couch is almost a mythical object with very few were every made or seen, although a few years ago some special editions were available for 400,000 DKr, nearly £50,000!

Jacobsen fans can visit the Royal Hotel and request to stay in Room 606 which still remains as Arne Jacobson designed it over 50 years ago,  The room is decorated in the original grey and blue-green colours and includes furniture that has become undoubtedly some of the design classics of the our times.

An original Egg Chair makes a truly special addition to any interior.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Julio Garcia permalink
    November 15, 2010 5:43 pm

    Hello design lovers!
    I recently visited London and I came across a beautiful furniture showroom called Chaplins, which had Fritz Hansen, B&B, Gandia Blasco… amongst other lovely brands… I bought a lovely Terzani lamp. Check out their website http://www.chaplins.co.uk it’s really nice!

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