“If only you could design just one good chair in your life…but you simply cannot.”– Hans Wegner
Born to a cobbler in 1914 in Southern Denmark, Hans Jørgensen Wegner went on to design over 500 different kinds of chairs that brought international fame to mid-century Danish furniture. Hans Wegner’s primary training included teenage apprenticeship to master cabinet maker H.F. Stahlberg. Later, he attended the Danish Technological Institute and the School of Arts and Crafts to enhance his knowledge of carpentry and architecture. He was offered to design furniture for Aarhus City Hall and Nyborg Public Library by Arne Jacobsen and Erik Moller.
Hans Wegner’s most eminent works include the Wishbone Chair and the Round Chair that came into existence in 1949 and quickly attracted international success. However, Hans Wegner did not just design chairs. His other designs include tables, cabinets, and lights as well. His philosophy of furniture design incorporated a good balance of functionality and aesthetics. In 1959, he was made an Honorary Royal Designer for Industry by the Royal Society of Arts, London.
Here are 10 products designed by Hans Wegner:
1. Wishbone Chair | Hans Wegner
The wishbone chair by Hans Wegner was the last of the series of chairs inspired by Danish Merchants sitting in Ming chairs. This series also happened to be the first collaboration between the designer Wegner and the maker Carl. Since its inception in 1949, the Wishbone or the Y-chair has been in production ever since. The joinery of this chair was unusual with a steam-bent frame meeting a hand-woven seat that resulted in a lightweight but strong chair.
2. Round Chair
This armchair was a part of a collaboration between Wegner and Johannes Hansen and remains in production by PP Møbler. Hans Wegner displayed three of his works including the Folding chair, the Round chair, and the Tripartite chair at the annual exhibition of the Copenhagen Cabinet Maker’s Guild in 1949. It was during this exhibition that the American press was drawn towards the traditional design of the chair which resulted in the International exposure of the Round Chair.
The display and use of this chair in the first televised U.S. Presidential Debate in the 1960s resulted in the International success of modern Danish furniture designs. The design philosophy of this chair was to strip the structure of a chair to its bare minimum function and hence, the back and arms were carved out of a single solid wood piece.
3. Peacock Chair | Hans Wegner
Originally inspired by the traditional English Windsor chair, the Peacock chair was designed in 1947 by Hans Wegner and produced by Johannes Hansen. It currently remains in production by PP Møbler.
For a better ergonomic experience as compared to the traditional Windsor chair, the spindles of the back chair were flattened by the designer, and the back was further exaggerated. An upholstered version of the same chair was put on display at the Cabinet Maker’s Guild Exhibition of 1953.
4. The Fish Cabinet
The Fish Cabinet is a combination of Wegner’s artistic and carpentry skills. It was designed for Johannes Hansen for the 1944 Cabinet Makers Guild Exhibition. Hans Wegner could not convince Hansen to bring this cabinet into production owing to its intricacy of design so he sat down to make it himself over three weeks cutting and inlaying each piece himself.
The cabinet design remains in agreement with the Klint School design philosophy owing to its functionality. The interiors containing a visually descriptive underwater world of fish that represents superficial ornamentation go against the school’s principle of design.
5. Drop Leaf Dining Table Model AT-309 | Hans Wegner
This sleek table was designed by Hans Wegner in the 1950s, and manufactured by Andreas Tuck. It can be unmistakably noted that this table designed by Wegner portrays the same design philosophy that his chairs do. An unmatched composition of functionality and bare aesthetics put together this table with cross legs inspired by 17th-century Spanish tables yet again, introducing traditionality.
The crossed legs supporting the tabletop have been strengthened by metal bracing while the tabletop bears a wooden pull-out frame supporting the two extra leaves on either side for extra space when required.
6. Papa Bear Chair
The Papa Bear Chair was designed for PP Møbler in 1953 for an extensive collaboration of modern Danish furniture. For most of us familiar with the work and designs of Hans Wegner, the Papa Bear Chair may come off as a surprise. The chair is extensively cushioned exhibiting unmatched comfort and minimal wood visually. This chair usually comes along with a footrest having matching fabric and legs.
The name of this chair comes from a review by a journalist referring to the armrests of the chair as ‘great paws embracing you from the behind’.
7. CH 825 Credenza
Furniture designs by Hans Wegner were not just limited to chairs and tables but also extended to cabinets and lights. This Credenza cabinet CH 825 was designed by Wegner in 1959. Its utmost simplicity is noteworthy. The two rolling shutters of this cabinet when slid towards one side make the interior of the cabinet completely accessible adding to the functionality element of CH 825.
Carl Hansen & Søn relaunched this Credenza in 2014 to mark the 100th birth anniversary of Wegner. The interiors of CH 825 contain a combination of shelves and pull-outs which can be adjusted as per requirement.
8. Shell Chair
Too avant-garde for its time, this Shell Chair was not accepted by the general public when it was introduced in the market in 1963 due to its edgy design. A more modern version of the chair was also designed by Hans Wegner with only three legs. A re-introduction of the chair by Carl Hansen & Søn in 1998 ended up receiving appreciation in the contemporary world.
9. Ox Chair
The famous Ox chair portrays the less serious side of the designer. This chair was a challenge because it was against everything that Hans Wegner was taught at school about the use of natural materials like wood. The cylindrical cushioned headrest is worth taking note of. The Ox Chair was designed in a way to offer more comfortable positions of sitting.
The chair is usually seen with a footrest that when used requires you to use the headrest as well, hence giving the ox-like headrest its purpose to exist. It has minimum leather upholstery and stainless steel legs.
10. The Pendant (Cable Lift Pendant) | Hans Wegner
Little is known of the fact that Han Wegner was involved in designing lights. The pendant has been in production ever since its production in 1962. The design concept behind this beautiful light fixture is extremely thoughtful. The Cabe Lift Pendant has a provision for adjusting heights with the shade that is provided with a handle making it possible to avoid touching the shade.
It is made out of aluminum and hand-polished. It is often also referred to as the Pandul lamp after the name of the manufacturer. Another series of three lights by Wegner is the Opala series.
www.carlhansen.com. Hans J. Wegner | Designer Profile | Carl Hansen & Søn. https://www.carlhansen.com/en/designers/hans-j-wegner. Accessed 17 June 2021.
Hans J Wegner. https://www.scandinaviandesign.com/hans_wegner/. Accessed 17 June 2021.
Designer – Danish-Design.Com. http://danish-design.com/designer/. Accessed 17 June 2021.
“Hans Wegner Drop-Leaf Dining Table Model AT-309, Denmark 1950s.” H. Gallery, https://hgallery.com/collection/hans-wegner-drop-leaf-dining-table-model-at-309-denmark-1950s.Accessed 17 June 2021.
“5 Influential Hans Wegner Chair Designs.” Invaluable, 1 Sept. 2020, https://www.invaluable.com/blog/hans-wegner-chairs/.
The Pendant Aluminium Wegner Cable Lift Pendant – Pandul – Buy Online. https://www.lampemesteren.com/the-pendant-aluminium-wegner-cable-lift-pendant-pandul/. Accessed 17 June 2021.