The word ‘fashion’ would not have entered the mind of Danish architect and designer Arne Jacobsen. Instead, he was much more interested in creating the appropriate interiors and furniture for each project, whether it was for a hotel, a restaurant, or in the case of his Series 7 Model No. 3107, released in 1955 and created specifically for the Rodovre Town Hall, west of Copenhagen’s city centre.
Awarded the Grand Prix at the Milan Triennale and a development of Jacobsen’s ‘Ant Chair’ (circa 1952), this moulded plywood chair continues to be a popular choice for designers today. “I think Jacobsen’s strength was that he took a holistic approach in everything he designed. There was also a context for which his chairs were designed,” Richard Munao says, owner of Cult Design, the exclusive stockists for the Series 7 in Australia. While Ray and Charles Eames were experimenting with moulded plywood in the 1940s, creating chairs with two separate panels (seat and backrest), the Series 7 features one continuous form produced from a single shell.
Richard has just shipped off a large order for 1,000 chairs for newly opened government offices. Cult has also supplied the Gallery of New South Wales with an additional 120 chairs to complement its initial order made a few years ago. And although the black or the white Series 7 are found to be the most popular, many are warming to the many new colours created by designer Carla Sozzani for her concept store in Corsa Como, Milan.
Model Christine Keeler, of London’s Profumo Affair fame, further brought this chair to prominence when she was photographed with it in 1963, with the backrest concealing her nudity. So, since it was released, it has never been out of the limelight, appearing in restaurants, hotels, and in both domestic and commercial settings (a set of six Series 7 chairs around a dining table still appears contemporary).
Leading architects such as Kennedy Nolan have used the Series 7 in both commercial and domestic settings. This chair has also been earmarked for a new hotel in Melbourne for one of its function spaces. “These chairs are stackable, so they’re ideal for this situation. But unlike many stackable chairs, they’re also extremely comfortable,” architect Patrick Kennedy says, a director of the practice. And given the firm’s penchant for green, it’s likely that the chairs that appear in this hotel will be green. “The beauty of these chairs is that they can be customised to work with any interior,” he adds.
Unlike some iconic chairs that are released with great fanfare but production falters in terms of quality down the track, the Series 7 continues to keep to its high standards thanks partly to the Arne Jacobsen descendants who maintain strict control. “There’s no compromise. They were designed to last, but also continue to be reimagined to suit contemporary environments,” Richard adds.