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Arne Jacobsen Black Leather Oxford Classic Chair For Republic Of Fritz Hansen

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Arne Jacobsen Black Leather Oxford Classic Chair for Republic of Fritz Hansen
By Fritz Hansen, Arne Jacobsen
Located in Miami, FL
Black leather office or desk chair designed by Arne Jacobsen for the Republic of Fritz Hansen

21st Century and Contemporary European Mid-Century Modern Office Chairs ...



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Fritz Hansen for sale on 1stDibs

When the Copenhagen-based furniture maker Fritz Hansen opened for business more than 140 years ago, the company — which today styles itself The Republic of Fritz Hansen — adhered to the traditional, time-honored Danish values of craftsmanship in woodworking and joinery. Yet thanks to the postwar innovations of Arne Jacobsen and others, Fritz Hansen would become the country’s leader in Scandinavian modern design using new, forward-looking materials and methods.

Fritz Hansen started his company in 1872, specializing in the manufacture of small furniture parts. In 1915, the firm became the first in Denmark to make chairs using steam-bent wood (a technique most familiar from birch used in the ubiquitous café chairs by Austrian maker Thonet). At the time, Fritz Hansen was best known for seating that featured curved legs and curlicue splats and referenced 18th-century Chippendale designs.

In the next few decades, the company promoted simple, plain chairs with slatted backs and cane or rush seats designed by such proto-modernist masters as Kaare Klint and Søren Hansen. Still, the most aesthetically striking piece Fritz Hansen produced in the first half of the 20th century was arguably the China chair of 1944 by Hans Wegner — and that piece, with its yoke-shaped bentwood back- and armrest, was based on seating manufactured in China during the Ming dynasty. (Wegner was moved by portraits he’d seen of Danish merchants in the Chinese chairs.) 

Everything changed in 1952 with Arne Jacobsen’s Ant chair. The collaboration between the architect and Fritz Hansen officially originated in 1934 — that year, Jacobsen created his inaugural piece for the manufacturer, the solid beechwood Bellevue chair for a restaurant commission. The Ant chair, however, was the breakthrough.

With assistance from his then-apprentice Verner Panton, Jacobsen designed the Ant chair for the cafeteria of a Danish healthcare company called Novo Nordisk. The chair was composed of a seat and backrest formed from a single piece of molded plywood attached, in its original iteration, to three tubular metal legs. Its silhouette suggests the shape of the insect’s body, and the lightweight, stackable chair and its biomorphic form became an international hit.

Jacobsen followed with more plywood successes, such as the Grand Prix chair of 1957. The following year he designed the SAS Royal Hotel in Copenhagen and its furnishings, including the Egg chair and the Swan chair. Those two upholstered pieces, with their lush, organic frames made of fiberglass-reinforced polyurethane, have become the two chairs most emblematic of mid-20th-century cool. Moreover, the Egg and Swan led Fritz Hansen to fully embrace new man-made materials, like foam, plastic and steel wire used to realize the avant-garde creations of later generations of designers with whom the firm collaborated, such as Piet Hein, Jørn Utzon (the architect of the Sydney Opera House) and Verner Panton. If the Fritz Hansen of 1872 would not now recognize his company, today’s connoisseurs certainly do.

Find a collection of vintage Fritz Hansen tables, lounge chairs, sofas and other furniture on 1stDibs.

A Close Look at mid-century-modern Furniture

Organically shaped, clean-lined and elegantly simple are three terms that well describe vintage mid-century modern furniture. The style, which emerged primarily in the years following World War II, is characterized by pieces that were conceived and made in an energetic, optimistic spirit by creators who believed that good design was an essential part of good living.






The mid-century modern era saw leagues of postwar American architects and designers animated by new ideas and new technology. The lean, functionalist International-style architecture of Le Corbusier and Bauhaus eminences Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Walter Gropius had been promoted in the United States during the 1930s by Philip Johnson and others. New building techniques, such as “post-and-beam” construction, allowed the International-style schemes to be realized on a small scale in open-plan houses with long walls of glass.

Materials developed for wartime use became available for domestic goods and were incorporated into mid-century modern furniture designs. Charles and Ray Eames and Eero Saarinen, who had experimented extensively with molded plywood, eagerly embraced fiberglass for pieces such as the La Chaise and the Womb chair, respectively. 

Architect, writer and designer George Nelson created with his team shades for the Bubble lamp using a new translucent polymer skin and, as design director at Herman Miller, recruited the Eameses, Alexander Girard and others for projects at the legendary Michigan furniture manufacturer

Harry Bertoia and Isamu Noguchi devised chairs and tables built of wire mesh and wire struts. Materials were repurposed too: The Danish-born designer Jens Risom created a line of chairs using surplus parachute straps for webbed seats and backrests.

The Risom lounge chair was among the first pieces of furniture commissioned and produced by legendary manufacturer Knoll, a chief influencer in the rise of modern design in the United States, thanks to the work of Florence Knoll, the pioneering architect and designer who made the firm a leader in its field. The seating that Knoll created for office spaces — as well as pieces designed by Florence initially for commercial clients — soon became desirable for the home.

As the demand for casual, uncluttered furnishings grew, more mid-century furniture designers caught the spirit.

Classically oriented creators such as Edward Wormley, house designer for Dunbar Inc., offered such pieces as the sinuous Listen to Me chaise; the British expatriate T.H. Robsjohn-Gibbings switched gears, creating items such as the tiered, biomorphic Mesa table. There were Young Turks such as Paul McCobb, who designed holistic groups of sleek, blond wood furniture, and Milo Baughman, who espoused a West Coast aesthetic in minimalist teak dining tables and lushly upholstered chairs and sofas with angular steel frames.

As the collection of vintage mid-century modern chairs, dressers, coffee tables and other furniture for the living room, dining room, bedroom and elsewhere on 1stDibs demonstrates, this period saw one of the most delightful and dramatic flowerings of creativity in design history.

Finding the Right office-chairs-desk-chairs for You

An essential part of every office or home workstation, office chairs and desk chairs are critically important to your comfort and getting the job done.

Desk chairs have evolved over time. While writing the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson pined for a wider range of motion and introduced some improvements to his English-style Windsor chair, inventing the swivel chair along the way. So the next time you roll, recline or swivel at your vintage desk, remember: The third president of the United States had a lot to do with that functionality.

Changes in the availability of resources have also led to innovations in desk chair design. After World War II, for example, optimistic American designers made use of wartime materials in their efforts to create practical domestic goods.

Mid-century modernism is the name given to the broad postwar time period that prioritized thoughtful design. Journalist Cara Greenberg, who coined the term “mid-century modernism,” cites “ergonomic wisdom” as part of the reason for the longevity of the era’s furnishings, and when it comes to sitting in a desk chair for hours at a time, what could be more important than ergonomic support?

As mid-century modernism was marked by resourcefulness and boundless creativity — and produced designers who, in most cases, prioritized comfort and support — it follows that all mid-century chairs are not the same. Nowhere is this perhaps more evident than at Herman Miller. The legendary Michigan furniture manufacturer got its start in the office, with design director George Nelson enlisting the likes of Charles and Ray Eames to produce desk chairs and lounge chairs that are still celebrated today. Elsewhere at the time, the numerous pieces Florence Knoll created for Knoll’s office furniture line were envisioned as design solutions for the changing needs of residential and office spaces.

If you’re working remotely and streamlined seating isn’t your thing, don’t be afraid of making a statement with your office chair. Introduce a touch of drama to your video calls by way of 19th-century desk accessories and the alluring forms we typically associate with antique desk chairs designed in the Empire and Regency styles. For a minimalist touch, a spare, utilitarian Industrial-style office chair can work in any space but will fit in particularly well amid the exposed brick and steel architecture that characterizes a loft apartment.

An inspiring home office cleverly mixes materials and styles to create a welcoming place of productivity and comfort, and if you’re gathering with colleagues at your company HQ, an array of wood, leather and metal office chairs can help integrate disparate textures in a conference room or any other collaborative space. On 1stDibs, explore a diverse collection of office and desk chairs today.