How to Spot a Fake/Replica Arne Jacobsen Egg Chair

In these days of the international internet and thriving second-hand markets, it’s easy to think you are picking up a furniture bargain. Is it really, though? Fakes are all around us. So, if you want to get Scandinavian and stylish, could you, for example, spot a fake Arne Jacobsen Egg Chair? 

It may not be easy. Fakers sometimes go to eggstraordinary lengths to look the part. (We should point out that there is an unwritten rule requiring these puns in a blog involving eggs. It’s no yolk if you fail to deliver.) Make a mistake, and you could find yourself shelling out for something that won’t last (we warned you!).

Of course, these furniture poachers don’t care about quality. That means the pieces they make won’t be all they are cracked up to be. It really is worth being able to spot the difference.

The Problem with Fakes

These days, everybody is familiar with the phrase “fake news”. Equally, everybody knows it is not a problem. The idea is always to mislead and profit from people acting on false information.

It’s the same with furniture fakery. Call the chair replica, counterfeit, forgery, bogus, sham, mock, imitation or a reproduction, and it all adds up to the same thing; a product made to exploit people with no care for craftsmanship, detail or quality.

The original Egg Chair, with its hand sewn quality fabric or leather surface, should last a lifetime and more. The others may go on a few years, but they will never have the same long lifespan as the real thing. One is an investment, the other a chance to show off, but only for a little while.

Who is Arne Jacobsen?

The 20th century saw Scandinavia become a centre of classy design. There was a seemingly never-ending stream of epoch-defining eggheads emerging from the region. Arne Jacobsen was one of the earliest and one of the best.

Before examining the faults to look for to spot a fake Arne Jacobsen Egg Chair, it is worth knowing a bit about him. The chair is one of the most famous creations from the post-war Danish design school and deserves its place in the spotlight.

Arne Jacobsen, born in Copenhagen in 1902, had been a leader in his field since 1923. That’s when a wickerwork chair he designed became his first prizewinning innovation.

He was already high profile when he was commissioned to work on the SAS Royal Hotel in Copenhagen in 1956. He produced a modern look in glass to reflect the city skyline. 

The building itself had echoes of New York. What really made the project stand out was that egghead Arne Jacobsen got involved in every part of the development. He was lead architect on the structure and also designed almost everything inside. That went all the way from from the carpets and wallpaper to the cutlery, door handles and other fittings.

No surprise, then, that he also designed the furniture and that included the chairs for the lobby. In most of the rooms he had gone for one of his earlier designs, the Swan Chair. He recognised, however, that he needed something different in the entrance area. 

Two years into the project, the Egg chair was born. 

What is the Egg Chair?

He wanted to give visitors the chance to cut themselves off from the hustle and bustle around them. It was important for him to give people the chance to see what was going on if they needed to. They might be waiting to meet somebody, after all.

Arne Jacobsen might have quailed at the challenge, but refused to chicken out. He realised he could lay down the basic shape by turning to the humble egg. The high back and wings cocoon the sitter in the chair but it also has a swivel base. People can turn it towards the action, as well as away from it.

He made the original design in his garage in Copenhagen. He moulded the shape in plaster then took it to the factory and turned it into the chair we see today.

Arne Jacobsen developed it using a new technique. He made the fundamental structure in Styrofoam, a new product on the market in 1958. Then he added a soft shell made of foam within an outer covering. High-quality leather covered the original chairs. The manufacturers have since added fabrics to the range. This made the Egg Chair both comfortable and practical. It provided the user with a degree of privacy – something you might desire while sitting in a busy hotel foyer – as well as the chance to see what was going on.

Despite its origins based on the needs of a hotel, the chair also well suited to the home. It can be a nest to snuggle into while reading or watching television. Equally, you can spin it round and join in all the family fun. It’s up to you. 

The Problem With Fake Arne Jacobsen Egg Chairs

The issue quickly became that the Egg Chair was everything it was cracked up to be. The shape alone meant it stood out in any environment, and that attracted plagiarism and fakery. People were prepared to poach the iconic egg shape, without putting in the hard work to get the details right.

The problem for Arne Jacobsen and Fritz Hansen, the manufacturer, is that if people think they have the real thing but actually have a knock-off, they may not understand where the inevitable problems lie. Buy the real thing and they guarantee you quality. Buy something else and there are not only no guarantees. There is a real risk that shoddy workmanship will come back to haunt you.

Easy Ways to Spot a Fake

There are all the obvious ways to tell if a chair is bogus. The adage “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is” goes for the Egg Chair too. The true craftsmanship that goes into it is not cheap. If you come across an example that is underpriced, it’s likely to be a fake.

If you’re trying to spot a fake Arne Jacobsen Egg Chair, the other thing to look for is the label. This should not only tell you if it is genuine, but can tell you the year they made it. Newer pieces will have a “Republic of Fritz Hansen” label attached to the fabric. From 2006 to 2010, they used a red tag, turning to a brown tag in 2010. If they made the chair was before 2006, the mark is on the base. It might be a sticker on the cylinder that attaches the top to the base, saying “Made in Denmark by Fritz Hansen”. It will also have a date.

The labels changed slightly over the years, but the information included is essentially the same. First edition chairs often have a “FH Made in Denmark” stamp on the leather.

If you are looking in the second-hand market, however, it is possible that the labels might be missing even if the chair is authentic. Previous owners might even have damaged or removed them, not thinking about future resale. If that’s the case, look at the bottom of the chair. There should be a raised serial number, the FH logo, and “Made in Denmark” moulded directly into the metal. Each serial number is unique and you can use it to trace it if it got lost or stolen.

Look at the workmanship

Labels and manufacturing marks can be just as fake as the chair itself. Even if all the right tags and marks are there, it is worth having a look at the piece itself. You can check that the legendary craftsmanship you expect is there.

The genuine Fritz Hansen Egg Chair has a leather covering and this can be the first giveaway. They make the real thing from a two pieces of leather. Crafts workers sew the one on the back to a second single piece on the front. Interestingly, that’s why the Egg Sofa Arne Jacobsen designed at the same time never went into general production. Fritz Hansen simply couldn’t find big enough bits of leather. They were not prepared to compromise and stitch smaller pieces together. 

That means there should be no obvious joins apart from on the edge. The original Arne Jacobsen egg chair did not come with a cushion. The manufacturers added one to later models, however, again in leather and again from a single piece. 

The real chair also reclines. It has a handle at the side to let you adjust the tension of the mechanism that handles this. Many fakes don’t recline at all, it adds to the expense, while others lack the adjustment device. The swivel mechanism can also be a giveaway. In the real thing, it is smooth and easy. In the copy, it is often clunky and takes a bit of effort to spin. 

The real thing looks sleek and streamlined. The copies will frequently look fat and chunky, presumably because the fakers think that makes them look more comfortable. 

Don’t Get Stitched Up By a Fake Egg Chair

If all else fails, the big giveaway is going to be the stitching. Worked sew the genuine Fritz Hansen Egg Chair by hand. The only seams will be on the edges. In fakes, the stitching will sometimes be in odd places – maybe a couple of inches down the back. 

Hand made means that you won’t see the stitches themselves in the real chair. However, the way the stitches hold the leather or fabric will give a slight wave effect. This is unique to the Egg Chair. The stitching on fakes is likely to be more rudimentary. Fakers usually use machines and can leave loose sections in the covering. In a real Egg Chair, you won’t be able to pinch any loose fabric. If it’s a fake, there’s a good chance there will be bits that don’t quite fit perfectly.

This can be important when you are trying to spot a fake Arne Jacobsen Egg Chair. The fakers are breaking copyright laws anyway, so they probably aren’t too worried by fire regulations either. The proper models come with fire retardant foam, but it’s unlikely the fakes will, and that could be dangerous. 

Size Does Matter

Finally, if you want to spot a fake Arne Jacobsen Egg Chair, arm yourself with a tape measure. The real things are all the same size, 107cm (42.1 inches) high; 86cm (33.9 inches) wide and a seat height of 37cm (14.6 inches), but fakes can be any size. If the numbers are wrong, it’s a fake.

Other indications in helping spot a fake Arne Jacobsen Egg Chair can include the number of prongs on the base. He designed it with four but some copies have three, five or even six. The prongs on the real thing have feet that mimic the shape of the prongs themselves but the fakes often have different styles of feet, including discs that lift the prongs further from the floor.

Spot That Fake Arne Jacobsen Egg Chair

Don’t be a feather-brain, the real Egg Chair is worth the money. Whether you are buying second hand or new, it may be a little more than the fake but the proper egg is a cracking piece of furniture and worth laying out a bit eggstra to acquire. 

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