Butterfly, swan, ant, egg, seagull, tongue: Arne Jacobsen has his way with names. With a beautiful landscape on his mind Jacobsen designed furniture with organic curves. Like Oskar Niemeyer created architecture with shapes like a female body, Jacobsen looked at the surrounding landscape to find inspiration. Especially his chair designs are an exploration of curvy lines, referring to insects and birds. However my personal favorite has a more geometric shape. The Grand Prix, originally known as the model 4130 (the model with the metal legs is 3130) has the same seating part as the Butterfly, its back is shaped in an Y-shape. Ok, truth being said, the corners are round and smooth, it still has straight lines.
The Grand Prix was designed in 1957 by Danish architect and designer Arne Jacobsen (1902- 1971). It was first presented at the Spring Exhibition of Danish arts and crafts at the Danish Museum of Art & Design in Copenhagen. Its construction and design mostly resembles the Model 3107, The Butterfly, which Jacobsen designed in 1955, but featured four wooden legs. And these legs makes it my favorite. The chair was renamed after it won the Grand Prix at the XI Triennale di Milano in 1957. Off course this chair was a huge succes, what can I say, Italians just love curves!
Look at those legs!
The Y-shaped shell is beautiful in its own right, but it’s what underneath that makes this chair really stand out. It’s like a beautiful woman: her body is shaped perfectly but with her legs, she really can seduce everyone in the room. And this chair has some beautiful legs! Four wooden legs, each built up from 48 layers of multiplex, are the base for this chair. You can recognize the early examples by their legs. The first generations had four separate wooden legs, each attached to a wooden base and then screwed to the seating shell with two screws. So in total a worker in the Fritz Hansen factory had to screw eight screws for each chair. That takes way too much time. So they replaced the four legs by one wooden undercarriage with one bigger screw in the middle. This base consisted of two parts, held together with one screw in the middle. Later this model also became available with a metal undercarriage, the same as used on the 3107s. And last but not least, look at the feet! Just like a high-heeled leg of a woman can make quite an impression, these early examples of the Grand prix have some sexy shoes. The four legs are paired in two and stand on delicate shoes. Two black ones on the front and two skin-colored ones on the back. Watch those feet!
What else to say, one just must instantly fall in love with chair, just as I did some years ago. Luckily for you they are produced in rather large quantities, although early editions are more scarce. Vintage editions of the Grand Prix can be bought in several vintage stores or auction. They sell for around a 800-1000 dollar a piece. Later editions, with the metal legs are significantly cheaper (but also with less charm). In 2014 Fritz Hansen relaunched this iconic chair with its original wooden base. It’s available with a base of chromed steel tubes, stackable, and with the beautiful non-stackable wooden legs. The chair is produced out of beech or teak or lacquered.