Grand Prix, 4130, Arne Jacobsen, Fritz Hansen
Could it be the contrast of the graphic back with the gentle curve in its seat, or those beautifully crafted, sinuous, laminated beech legs that look like they might strut gracefully around the room at any minute? What is it that makes the Grand Prix a favourite with collectors?
It would have taken guts to add a geometric shape to the top of a chair-back like that in the fifties but, as much as he loved to court the press, Arne Jacobsen never did anything without reason.
Evolving from the Sevener and Ant, which were inspired in part by the Eameses’ early experiments in ply, the shape strengthened the back, stopped the laminate lifting, acted as a perfect frame to set off the markings in the wood and worked magnificently in a room built in the round.
Jacobsen loved contrast. And just as his stark geometric buildings often contain a chorus of organic, curved furniture and circular staircases, the dichotomy of form in the 4130 (now numbered 3130) gave life to a chair of perfect geometry which worked in opposition to the walls of the circular Round House he completed for the manager of a local fish-smoking plant at Odden harbour on the island of Sjællands the same year.
A set of Grand Prix chairs and table with matching legs once sat under the circular skylight in the dining room until they were sold by auction house Bruun Rasmussen in 2014. An upholstered version of the Grand Prix was introduced in the sixties.
And while the wooden legs were later replaced with metal ones, as used on the 3107s to enable chairs to stack, wooden legs were reintroduced in 2014 after the Fritz Hansen team noted vintage all-wood Grand Prix being snapped up within minutes of the doors opening at reputable twentieth-century collectors fairs like Mid-century Modern in London.
The Grand Prix chair was first shown as the 4130 at the Spring Exhibition of Danish Arts and Crafts at the Danish Museum of Art & Design in Copenhagen in 1957, and got its name after it went on to win the most prestigious prize in furniture, the Grand Prix at the Triennale in Milan that year.
One of the most coveted of dining room chairs by mid-century collectors, it shows Jacobsen diverting from his stacking programme to play with a more idiosyncratic chair, mixing his love of classicism, geometry, curve, functionality and craftsmanship into one glorious piece of design.