Relaxed, subversive and sexy…
Designer: Arne Jacobsen, 1955
If the antimacassared sofa defined the Victorian age, the chair that summed up the 20th century would have to be the Series 7.
Designed in 1955 by Danish architect Arne Jacobsen for the design company Fritz Hansen, the plywood chairs have remained popular for six decades – a period of profound changes in technology, culture and lifestyle.
The hourglass figure of the light, stackable chair came to epitomise modernity, although the cinched-in waist was also for practical reasons (early versions had arms emerging from the legs).
Made of bent plywood using a moulding technique Jacobsen developed in his own garage, Jacobsen formed the body of the chair from a single continuous form: nine layers of wood are glued and pressed before being cut into the exaggerated hourglass shape that soon became Jacobsen’s signature, preceding the Swan and Egg armchairs.
The modernist design was inspired by the work of Charles and Ray Eames, who invented a method of heat-moulding to bend plywood in three directions.
The chair became iconic after Lewis Morley’s photo of a naked Christine Keeler straddling it – or, rather, a high-street fake – came to epitomise the swinging Sixties.
The most sold stackable chair in design history (selling over 7 million copies), the Series 7 has become a style icon and is seen by many as one of the finest examples of timeless design.