The design of the Drop Chair was conceived by Arne Jacobsen – the legendary Finnish modernist and an iconic figure of 20th century architecture and design. Owing at least in part to its unusual design and futuristic appearance, the chair remained just a prototype for more than five decades before being rediscovered and put into mass-production in 2014. This timeless piece of furniture, despite its considerable age, still looks extravagant and intriguing, making it a great, tasteful addition to any modern interior.
The Drop Chair was developed in 1958, along with the Egg Chair and the Swan Chair, in order to furnish the lobby of the Radisson Blu Royal Hotel in Copenhagen. The entire building, together with its interior and furnishings, was designed by Arne Jacobsen for the Scandinavian Airline System (SAS). While working on the project of the hotel, Jacobsen, who had worked as a landscape architect in the past, pursued a "modern garden" theme. It resulted in an organic, oval form of the chair, which matches the rest of the furnishings developed for the hotel. The Drop Chair was manufactured in a small batch destined exclusively for the Radisson Blu Royal Hotel. Despite of the indisputable appeal of the chair, for more than half a century, it remained forgotten before winning enough attention and becoming commercially available.
The Drop Chair was brought back to life by the Republic of Fritz Hansen furniture company and reintroduced to the public at the Salone del Mobile Milano in 2014. This Danish manufacturer began its collaboration with Arne Jacobsen in 1934. Since then, Jacobsen provided the company with many memorable furniture designs, including the following: the Ant Chair, the Series 7 Chair, the Grand Prix Chair, the Swan Chair and of course the iconic Egg Chair.
Although many people would certainly engage in polemics over the arguable appeal of the SAS Hotel itself, the design of the Drop Chair does not leave any room for such a discussion. Its cutting-edge futuristic design, combined with the impeccable quality of craftsmanship, has earned the chair a very special place in the history of interior design.
According to Michael Sheridan, an architect, author and Arne Jacobsen expert, "Confronted with a synthetic material that lacked any structure or suggested any form, Jacobsen took his inspiration from the human form and the contours of the body (…); In this way, he humanized technology and the Drop chair for the Royal Hotel represents a masterful intersection of art and industry." Indeed, the tear-shaped chair has become a milestone in the field of interior design. Although the chair looks like a masterpiece of modern art, it is fully functional and surprisingly comfortable. Perhaps the most distinctive feature of the chair is its drop-shaped shell. Hence the chair’s name – “The Drop Chair”. It is manufactured from ABS plastic with nylon inner reinforcements. Customers can choose from two versions of the chair.
The plastic variant is available in six colours. The more demanding clientele can order their Drop Chairs upholstered in fabric or supple leather. The upholstered version of the chair is padded with cold cured foam for the additional comfort. The base consists of four tubular steel legs, which come in chrome or powder coated finish. The powder coating is only available for the plastic version in colours matching the shell. Additionally, the legs are equipped with the stainless steel and nylon glides at the ends for the floor surface protection. The overall appearance of the chair is extraordinarily appealing and stylish. It is very proportional and well-balanced and the use of the steel, tubular base makes it look both airy and light.
The chair does not obstruct the room in which it is placed but enhances the perception of spaciousness. Even today, almost six decades after its presentation, when modernism is not an extravagant or radical concept anymore, the Drop Chair has neither aged nor become trite. It still looks fresh and contemporary. It is particularly well depicted by the chair’s manufacturer, which advertises the chair with a slogan: “It is a small chair with a big personality and it is as fresh and vibrant as a new design but with a rare heritage.”