Carl Hansen & Søn

the-master-of-the-chair

THE MASTER OF THE CHAIR

Danish architect Hans J. Wegner is considered a pioneering furniture designer of the twentieth century. As a driving force behind 'Danish Modern', he helped change the general public's view of furniture in the 1950s and 1960s.

THE MASTER OF THE CHAIR

Affectionately known as 'the Master of the Chair' Wegner designed more than 500 of them during his career. He is famous for his focus on the relationship between beauty and comfort, integrating perfectly executed joints with exquisite shapes. He also had a passion and curiosity for wood, preferring it over other materials for its organic form, natural characteristics and innate tactility.

Hans J. Wegner was born in 1914 in Tønder in Southern Denmark, the son of a shoemaker. At the age of 17 he completed his apprenticeship as a cabinetmaker in the workshop of H. F. Stahlberg where his first designs saw the light of day. At the age of twenty he moved to Copenhagen, Denmark, to attend the School of Arts and Crafts, where he studied from 1936-1938 before embarking on a career as an architect.

In 1940, Wegner joined Arne Jacobsen and Erik Møller and began designing furniture for the new City Hall in Aarhus, Denmark's second-largest city. This was also the year when Wegner began working with master cabinetmaker Johannes Hansen, who played a major role in introducing modern design to the Danish public.

Hans J. Wegner opened his own drawing office in 1943. In 1944, he designed the first China Chair in a series inspired by Chinese chairs from the Ming dynasty. One of these chairs, the Wishbone Chair, went on to become Wegner's most successful design of all time. It has been in continuous production by Carl Hansen & Søn since 1950.

Photos: Hans J. Wegner.

Carl Hansen & Søn's alliance with Hans J. Wegner began in 1949 when Holger Hansen, Carl Hansen's son, pursued a collaboration with the young furniture designer to enhance and expand the offering of the business. Wegner, keen to focus both on chair design and bringing his work to a wider audience, agreed to the partnership and began to work on proposals for new designs immediately. In partnership with Carl Hansen & Søn Wegner designed a huge range of dining chairs, easy chairs, footrests, sofas coffee tables, dining tables and office furniture. Many of his designs are now icons for the company, including the Wishbone, Shell and Wing chairs.

Hans J. Wegner is considered one of the most creative and productive Danish furniture designers of all time. He received several accolades for design including the Lunning Prize in 1951 and The 8th International Design Award in 1997. He became an honorary member of the Royal Danish Academy for the Fine Arts in 1995, and an honorary doctor of the Royal College of Art in 1997. Almost all of the world's major design museums, from The Museum of Modern Art in New York to Die Neue Sammlung in Munich, feature his furniture in their collections. Hans J. Wegner died in Denmark in January 2007 at the age of 92.

--> Behind an Icon: The Wishbone Chair by Hans J. Wegner

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