Article from the 2015-04-14, by Anja Beckmann
The Series 7 celebrates its 60th birthday. We looked at the history of the famous chair of the 50s in the event of the anniversary. How did it emerge? What makes it special? Why was it called „Series 7“? This is a post about the slim waists, unconventional sales promotions and trendy model numbers.
The Danish architect and designer Arne Jacobsen designed the Series 7 for the furniture manufacturer Fritz Hansen. “Finally a chair by Jacobsen with four legs and armrests if desired!”, was what made the people happy in 1955, when Frits Hansen presented the Series 7. The predecessor was Jacobsen‘s famous chair „The Ant“ from 1952. It was an elegant, stackable, three-legged chair. The form was as well a highlight: A round backrest and a slim “waist”, ending up in an also round seat. Seat and backrest are made of one only piece of plywood. Jacobsen used a new technique of processing laminated veneer wood and he was inspired by the design couple Charles and Ray Eames. Seam made it possible to form the laminated wood in two dimensions. Where the differently curved wooden sheets of the backrest and the seat met, the material was narrowed and reinforced by additional veneer layers. That made the backrest stable and yielding at the same time.
It was an aim to create an affordable, compact chair for modern places. This was possible by reducing the chair to two pieces – seat and metal tube frame – without any problems. The designer made The Ant for the canteen of the Danish company Novo – which asked for 140 chairs. The manufacturer Frits Hansen wanted to start the production reduced to 300 pieces initially, which is the reason why Arne Jacobsen needed to promise to sell the resting 160 chairs, if there weren’t other purchasers of them. Far wrong!
After The Ant, Jacobsen developed another edition with a simple, less thin waist and four legs – the model 3107 or: the Series 7. Back then he didn’t know how popular a simple model number could become. The number 7 is a synonym for timeless elegance and artistic and handicraft skills on the highest level. Jacobsen’s chair was the reason for the international success of Danish design – the start of the very popular Scandinavian design.
The Series 7 also has a thin waist between the backrest and the seat and it is also made out of one only piece of plywood. The innovative construction of the chair is the reason why it is economical in the production as well as it is extremely w3eightless. The position of the seat and the legs makes it possible to pile the chairs – this is why they are ideally suitable to be used for conference room, classrooms, canteens and wherever many chairs are needed in little time. A design chair for every day.
Those that don’t know it by name, have surely already seen it more than once. The Series 7 chairs is almost everywhere. No wonder, since more than 5 million chairs were sold in 1955. This is the reason why the birthday chair is one of the most sold chairs of all times. The reason for it is also influenced by the many editions it exists in – different colours and with different, complicated under-constructions like castors with swivel bases. The surface of the seat is available made of natural wood, with different coatings and completely textile coated or only with a cushion, with different textiles or made of leather. Design knows no limits.
The Series 7 was observed from all over the world. Jacobsen furnished buildings he designed with his chairs, like the conference rooms of the Mainz town hall or the restaurant in the 20th floor of the SAS Royal Hotel in Copenhagen. There was something more that made the legendary chair legendary. Lewis Morley photographed the famous model Christine Keeler 1963, an important character of the Profumo affair, naked on a duplicate of the Series 7. The picture was printed by all types of media for months, the original Series 7 was sold enormously during that time. Moreover different museums of the world started to exhibit the Series 7 chair – many of them permanently. Just like the design museum oin Denmark in Copenhagen and the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
In the event of the 60th birthday, Arne Jacobsen’s famous chair got a noble outfit: Soft pink with golden (24 karat) legs. Another more masculine edition was also presented now: dark blue with powder coated legs. Both edition are only available this year – at Connox, for example!