Unique desk gets new life

Carl Hansen & Son presents unique writing desk designed by Arne Jacobsen

Danish architect and designer Arne Jacobsen is synonymous with modernism and functionalism. One of the finest examples of his oeuvre is the unique Society Table, which Jacobsen was commissioned to design in 1952 as a gift for the American-Scandinavian Foundation’s new office in New York.

Carl Hansen & Son is now adding the Society Table to its collection of design classics, making it accessible to design enthusiasts worldwide.

Arne Jacobsen’s Society Table – a bold furniture piece in its day and a modern design statement in line with today’s interior design trends – elegantly unites Bauhaus, functionalism and industrial aesthetics.

The table’s timeless design is attributable in part to Jacobsen’s highly visionary approach: The world-famous architect and designer’s simple, expressive design language has remained contemporary for decades.

The Society Table, which combines steel, veneer, leather and wood, was commissioned in 1952 as a one-off design by the large Danish shipyard, Burmeister & Wain. The desk was part of a complete office set to be given to the American-Scandinavian Foundation in New York – an organization that promotes cultural and educational exchange between the USA and Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Iceland.

The rare desk, originally manufactured in just a few copies, is now being resurrected in a slightly updated version. The addition not only brings a very distinctive new design to the Carl Hansen & Son collection, but also augments the Danish furniture company’s portfolio of eminent furniture designers who helped shape the Danish Modern period.

- The desk not only tells a unique story, but is also a distinctive piece of furniture that fits perfectly into the Carl Hansen & Son portfolio of design classics. With strong visual, functional and sculptural qualities, it’s a design that attracts well-deserved attention – and fulfills the high standard of craftsmanship for which Carl Hansen & Son is known, explains Knud Erik Hansen, CEO of Carl Hansen & Son.

He continues:

- Arne Jacobsen is an obvious name to welcome to the Carl Hansen & Son designer family, and one that contributes to Carl Hansen & Son’s overall Danish Modern narrative.

A complex design
The functionalist desk was one of the many iconic furniture works that helped define Arne Jacobsen as an outstanding designer. The 1950s and 1960s were the peak of Jacobsen’s career, and the Society Table is an example of the world-famous and pioneering designer’s boldness in combining new materials and experimenting with innovative shapes.

Using new techniques, he created a slim, leather-covered tabletop that nestles snugly and organically around the tubular metal frame like a tablecloth. Slots at each corner expose the table’s legs – a design feature that, combined with a floating, veneered drawer unit, gives the table a light expression.

The desk is made of solid wood, veneer, and steel. The tabletop is covered with fine-structured leather, the drawer unit combines wood and veneer, and the table shelf – with two compartments that fit up to A4 and M65 envelopes – is made of wood with glass sides.

The table features an integrated, brushed, stainless-steel desk lamp. Jacobsen designed all of the elements, including the conical lamp that completes the modernistic look.

One of the design techniques Jacobsen used to lend the Society Table lightness and elegance was to specially connect the six-drawer unit to the table by “suspending” the unit beneath the table with four metal tubes.

This creates a visual break that, together with the thin tubular frame and legs that end in elegant, solid-wood feet, accentuates the overall impression of lightness. The drawer unit is an integrated part of the structure that adds stability and makes the slim tubular frame possible.

Carl Hansen & Son is re-launching the sophisticated table in close cooperation with Jacobsen’s family, who are thrilled that the unique furniture piece will now reach a wider audience.

Jacobsen’s grandson, designer Tobias Jacobsen, who manages his grandfather’s legacy with great dedication, notes:

- The Society Table is an expression of my grandfather’s remarkable ability to make the complex appear very simple. The desk is also an archetypal example of his functionalist approach to the design process, so it is very significant that the Society Table is now being put into production.

The Society Table, model number AJ52, is available in two sizes: 140 x 70 cm and 160 x 70 cm. The six-drawer unit can be mounted beneath the left or right side of the table. The drawers come in solid oak, walnut or black-painted oak, and the main body of the unit is made of veneer. The feet come in solid oak, walnut or black-painted oak to match the drawer unit. The table shelf and integrated lamp in brushed, stainless-steel are available as an option.

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