Trained as an architect in Copenhagen, Jacobsen took up the profession already in the 1920s. His most famous buildings include Arhus Town Hall in Denmark, the SAS Royal Hotel in Copenhagen and St Catherine's College in Oxford England. His experiments into plywood resulted in the Ant chair in 1952 and the 3107 in 1955 (also known as the Seven chair), both manufactured by Fritz Hansen.
The work on the SAS Royal Hotel resulted in some of his most outstanding designs, including the Egg and Swan chairs, a stainless steel cutlery set now made by silver manufacturer Georg Jensen and a series of lamps, manufactured by Louis Poulsen. In 1967 he designed a series of stainless steel tableware for Stelton. A perfectionist and a master of detail, Jacobsen worked right up to his death in 1971. In central London, his Royal Danish Embassy on Sloane Street was completed only in 1977.