The Ant™ Celebrating 70 years of expressive design – Fritz Hansen
The Ant™ chair’s visual expression is imaginative and elegant, much like the curves of a musical instrument. Designed by Arne Jacobsen in 1952, the sculptural design turns 70 this year. Made from nine layers of pressure moulded veneer, its elegant shape belies its remarkable strength and comfort.
Named after its resemblance to the silhouette of an ant, the Ant™ was originally conceived in 1952. Designed as a dining chair for the canteen of Danish pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk, the original version featured three plastic coated legs and a sculpted veneer seat. It has since been updated continually, with the addition of a fourth leg in 1971.
Arne Jacobsen was a notoriously difficult man to work with, sarcastic and demanding, and even requiring his own staff to work around the clock rather than tend to their families. At home, he lined his cups and glasses in neat rows and ensured the children’s toys were stored out of sight. While redecorating, he had his family hold up picture frames for hours on end to make sure the final composition was just right. Yet despite his peculiarities, Jacobsen was a well-rounded individual who enjoyed painting, studying nature and tending to saplings. He had a warm, self-depreciating sense of humour evident in his hand-drawn Christmas cards to close friends or his carefully considered statements on subjects close to his heart. As a child, he liked to play the clown and throughout adulthood he continued his boyhood antics – once donning a hollowed-out melon as a hat. Oftentimes Jacobsen looked to escape the very thing he had helped to create: “I am choking on aesthetics,” he would say in private, where even the pastries he ate had to look as good as they tasted. Little wonder, then, that he often sought joy and comfort in places where anti-design and anti-aesthetics ruled. His legacy – as a pioneering and uncompromising modernist designer and a nature-loving, affable family man – reflects his complex nature.