Known for his organic and soft lines in designs like the Swan™ and the Ant™, Arne Jacobsen surprised design connoisseurs all over the world when he first introduced Oksen in 1966. Reflecting its name - meaning 'the bull' in Danish - Oksen was big, bold and powerful. All three features characterise Oksen in 2017, as we relaunch this outstanding yet somewhat overlooked Arne Jacobsen furniture piece.
To make any lounge setting superior - in a private home or a corporate office - we introduce Oksen™ by Arne Jacobsen. Unlike many of Arne Jacobsen's other designs, Oksen was not designed for a specific architectural project. It was a product of years of experimenting by Arne Jacobsen. The chair was considered quite rare among critics due to its short original production period as well as its controversial yet powerful expression. The voluminous Oksen represents edge and personality and like its predecessor - the Egg™ - it inhabits a room like no one else.
It took Arne Jacobsen nothing less than five years to develop the Oksen design. In contrast to many of his earlier pieces that are characterised by rounded, organic shapes, this easy chair has a much sharper outline. Arne Jacobsen always wanted to surprise the public and Oksen was a project he repeatedly returned to with many variations in the years 1962- 66 before it finally took shape in 1966. Indeed it can be defined as the largest and most distinctive chair that Arne Jacobsen ever designed.
The chair is both distinctive and definite in its language, and the inspiration is clearly the American recliner type that Jacobsen had seen in the United States. In addition, it can be seen as a counter reaction to the perception of Jacobsen as a designer who previously worked with a soft sculptural form. Oksen is also sculptural but in a completely different tight form and designed in a style that is in line between the soft royal furniture and the tighter Oxford™ furniture in Fritz Hansen's collection.
THE RELAUNCH OF OKSEN™ IN 2017The 2017 version of Oksen™ is first and foremost available in black Extreme leather at a superb price. Extreme leather hides are unique pieces characterised by several types of beautymarks - from insect bites to shades formed by the bone structure. All of which make this leather type not only quite rare in its expression, but tells the tale of an original and natural material. Add a matching footstool with an aluminium or black powder coated base for the complete bold and superior Oksen experience.
The relaunch of Oksen also means improved quality and seating. For our design and development team it was critical to make sure the chair would fit nowadays ergonomics and seating standards while keeping the original design. The solution was found by increasing the height of the back by 5-7 cm and made the front armrest width 2-3 cm slimmer.
Oksen is overall a firm chair. One of the peculiarities of this chair is that Arne Jacobsen did not leave any drawings of it behind. The 2017 design is therefore built from analysing an Oksen museum piece only, a piece that was not even allowed for touching. Hence, redesigning Oksen was both a challenge and a journey into Arne Jacobsen's design mindset. The renewed Oksen is built from a wooden construction and made with moulded foam. The firm parts of the chair are layered with felt to soften the wooden inner shell without compromising with the fitted look - just like it is done with our Poul Kjærholm sofas.
Arne Jacobsen was born on February 11, 1902 in Copenhagen. His father, Johan Jacobsen, was a wholesale trader in safety pins and snap fasteners. His mother, Pouline Jacobsen, was trained as a bank clerk and often painted floral motifs in her spare time. The family lived in Claessensgade, Copenhagen in a typical Victorian style home. Maybe that is why Arne, as a child, painted the coloured wallpaper in his room white, as a contrast to his parents’ overly decorated taste.
Background & school relations
At Nærum Boarding School, he met the Lassen brothers; later, Flemming Lassen was to become his partner in a series of architectural projects. Arne Jacobsen was described as a restless pupil, always up to pranks, and often with a self-deprecating humour. Already as a child, he showed an extraordinary talent for drawing and depicting nature through scrupulous studies. Originally, Jacobsen wanted to be painter, but his father felt that architect was a more sensible choice, and that is how it was. Nevertheless, Jacobsen later had ample opportunity to paint and to express his ideas through highly accurate drawings.
The Pleasant and the necessary trips abroad
Jacobsen’s travelling began already in his twenties, when he went to sea. The voyage, the only one in his career as a sailor, went to New York. Then followed an apprenticeship as a bricklayer in Germany and a series of study and drawing excursions to Italy. During this period, Jacobsen produced some of his finest watercolours with classic motifs, where he captures atmospheres and renders materials and shapes accurately and carefully. From the beginning of his career, Jacobsen turned his gaze abroad, without ever abandoning Denmark or the Danish traditions in his field.
Arne Jacobsen behind the design
In summarising Jacobsen as a person, one arrives at a picture that reflects to a high degree the nuances in his purely professional production: On the one hand the insistent, perfectionist modernist, to whom no detail was trivial, although the main picture was basically black/white and unambiguous. On the other hand, the nature-loving botanist and jovial family man. Overall, the professionalism and almost nerdy passion for his work are indispensable aspects in descriptions of Jacobsen - including his own descriptions.