Egg, Drop, Swan 60th Anniversary

In the late 1950s, Danish architect and designer Arne Jacobsen was in the midst of designing Copenhagen’s SAS Royal Hotel (renamed the Radisson Blu Royal Hotel in 2009) while simultaneously experimenting with the material Styrofoam. He conceived the hotel as a gesamtkunstwerk, or total work of art: in addition to the architecture, he designed everything from the furniture throughout the hotel to the flatware in the dining room. Styrofoam allowed Jacobsen to carve organic shapes that appropriately embrace the human form, and the Egg chair™, the Swan chair™, and the Drop chair™ were the results. Although Styrofoam was the material Jacobsen initially used to create the shapes, it is notorious for cracking when bent; ultimately Jacobsen made the chairs from polyurethane foam, which offer more strength. All three chairs were manufactured by Danish furniture company Fritz Hansen in 1958 to bring a level of comfort to the towering, rectilinear hotel.

The Egg chair™, which envelopes the occupant, is perhaps one of the most iconic pieces of midcentury design. This chair has appeared in countless Hollywood sets, from the Beatles’ Help! to Zoolander. The Swan chair™ opens like a blossoming flower, visually lifting the sitter. The Drop chair™ is narrower. “Jacobsen always said the Drop chair™ was perfect for his wife at home, because he could see her shape from the back,” says Christian Andresen, Fritz Hansen’s head of design.

*A special thank-you to architect Paul Lewandowski for reminding me about the chairs’ anniversary this year.

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