This week sees the re-launch by Fritz Hansen of a very special chair. One could call it the elbowed chair, though it is in fact, without arms. However, the teasingly named Drop was once excluded from a very special group of furniture created in 1958 for the Scandinavian Airline System Royal (SAS), Royal Hotel in Copenhagen.
This tear-shaped beauty of mid-century design was laid in the same nest as the Egg and the Swan chairs celebrated in corporate, curated and private settings throughout the world for over 50 years.
Unlike Jacobsen’s other hospitality masterworks, the Drop was, after its heady debut at the Radisson,well... dropped.
It seems surprising that Hansen put aside such a neatly proportioned perch, fashioned for the well-pelted backsides of executives visiting the bar and lobby of the still majestic skyscraper, thrusting into the Copenhagen skyline today.
Organic, clean-limbed, airy, fun, who wouldn’t love Drop at a glance? Danish vintage devotees are now hopping around Irish breakfast tables waving their toast over their heads, so here’s Fritz Hansen’s own press blurb. I wouldn’t want to get between you lunatics and the wellspring.
‘The shell comes in plastic in six colours and with upholstery in fabric and leather. The shell is made of ABS plastic with nylon as reinforcement inside.
“The ....chair is upholstered with cold-cured foam and covered with fabric or leather. The base consists of four legs in chromed or powder coated steel tubes.
“The powder coated legs are only available for the plastic chair in colours matching the shell. The chromed and powder coated base for the plastic chair is with leg ferrules of black synthetic material. On the upholstered chair the base has a chromed steel glide made in one piece with the legs — underneath felt glides are mounted. Fritz Hansen, Denmark.”
I hope you took all that all in now — no powder coating to the legs without a matching shell — don’t come crying to me.
It’s a lovely chair with a sputnik angled thrust to the legs and a deep anatomically inspired seat begging for a wiggle of buttocks.
Furniture makers, Fritz Hansen trotted their chrome-legged little steed back out into the design paddock in the hallowed Hansen showroom of Corso Giuseppe Garibaldi 77, in Milan this spring. It caused a gale of fainting praise across the interiors world.
To my mind this teasing denial to Jacobsen followers was a decade too long of sheer, marketing flirt.
Hansen may have only released the Drop after half a century of considerationg, but other designers have certainly been inspired in the meantime.
For example the Drop closely resembles the work of Karim Rashed for BoConcept and his leafy little Ottawa dining chair, with perhaps a slightly less scooped bucket style seat (available at Arnotts and Beacon South Quarter for €717 each).
The copy houses, still unrestrained by creative patent law, have been hard at work churning out variants of well-known pieces.
Still, it’s been a great year for lost loves. Carl Hansen & Sons unveiled another neglected treasure in April, the Hans J Wegner CH88.
It’s a lightly drawn poem in wood and steel dating from 1955, that lovers of old school /industrial will simply have to have as occasional chairs and diners.We found it at €425 from Utilitydesign.co.uk.
If you want an original Hansen Drop, Lost Weekend are taking orders for chairs starting at €295. That’s not bad for a tailored piece of design history you can enjoy every day and brag about on Facebook.
Chain smoking, being a practising sex maniac, flying to Oklahoma to stalk Garth Brooks’ tour manager — far more expensive.
To see Arne Jacobsen’s work in situ, right down to the door handles, rooms at the SAS Royal, now known as the Radisson Blu Royal Hotel Copenhagen, can be enjoyed from €171 per night (1276 DKK).
Jacobsen once wryly retorted that the building ‘came in first when they held a competition for the ugliest building in Copenhagen’.
Today it’s deemed by all as nothing short of fabulous. Room 606 in all original Jacobsen pieces comes at a premium. www.radissonblu.com