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April 11, 2009

In 1957, Danish designer Arne Jacobsen created the Grand Prix chair for Fritz Hansen—two years after rising to furniture-design fame with his Series 7 chair and five years after his Ant chair was released in 1952. One thing I love about these chairs is that despite their unique shapes and identities, the way in which they are made is exactly the same except for one small step.

Grand Prix chairs by Arne Jacobsen for Fritz Hansen
Grand Prix chairs by Arne Jacobsen for Fritz Hansen
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At the Fritz Hansen factory outside of Copenhagen, Denmark, rough molded-plywood forms are cut using a CNC machine into Grand Prix, Ant, or, as show here, Series 7 chairs.
At the Fritz Hansen factory outside of Copenhagen, Denmark, rough molded-plywood forms are cut using a CNC machine into Grand Prix, Ant, or, as show here, Series 7 chairs.
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Grand Prix chairs by Arne Jacobsen for Fritz Hansen
Grand Prix chairs by Arne Jacobsen for Fritz Hansen

I had the opportunity, not too long ago, to visit the Fritz Hansen stackable chair factory, located just outside of Copenhagen in the Danish countryside, and see the Series 7 chairs being made (a story we’re featuring in our September issue this fall). The sole difference between manufacturing a Grand Prix, Series 7, or Ant chair is the cutting pattern that the factory-floor worker selects on the CNC machine, which cuts the rough molded-plywood forms to shape. The rest is identical.

At the Fritz Hansen factory outside of Copenhagen, Denmark, rough molded-plywood forms are cut using a CNC machine into Grand Prix, Ant, or, as show here, Series 7 chairs.
At the Fritz Hansen factory outside of Copenhagen, Denmark, rough molded-plywood forms are cut using a CNC machine into Grand Prix, Ant, or, as show here, Series 7 chairs.

This year, as part of its 2009 collection, Fritz Hansen is reintroducing the Grand Prix chair—originally called the 3130 but changed after its design won the Grand Prix award at the Triennale in Milan. Though the Grand Prix chairs look great grouped together, for me, this series of molded plywood chairs make the perfect palette for mixing and matching.
 

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