Hans J. Wegner

Hans J. Wegner

"Hans J. Wegner is one of the Danish furniture designers who has achieved world fame. As the creator of many designs, in-cluding The China Chair designed for Fritz Hansen in 1944, Wegner has a unique ability to cultivate a classic motive and interpret it into modern form.

Hans J. Wegner finished his carpenter apprenticeship in 1931. While still an apprentice he made furniture on his own. One of the pieces was a lounge chair designed in the rigid, functionalis-tic style of the period. Between 1936-38 Wegner studied furni-ture design at the Danish School of Arts and Crafts. By then, he had joined the inner circles of furniture makers - The Copenha-gen Carpenter Corporation - who organised furniture design competitions and exhibitions for young architects. From 1938 to 1942 Wegner was employed at Erik Moeller's and Arne Jacobsen's design studio. His main task was to work on furni-ture and interior design assignments for the new town hall in Aarhus, Denmark until 1946 when he started teaching at the furniture department of The Danish School of Arts and Crafts. 1949 marked the break-through for Wegner's career as furniture maker when he displayed at the Carpenter Corporation exhibi-tion.

Hans J. Wegner is a meticulous and admired craftsman. But beyond his talents as a wood worker, he also has a unique sen-sibility for the material he works with - wood. His furniture al-ways starts at the drafting table, he then continues his studies with small scale models in cardboard, plywood and wood, and finalises the design with full scale prototypes that are evaluated for comfort and detailing.

His favourite materials are solid oak, beech, teak, ash and ma-ple, but in the mid 60s, he also started working with laminated wood. While Weger developed a large portfolio of chairs, all with unique personalities, they share one common feature - none of them has a solid back, so they may easily be combined and create harmony in any type of environment.

Durability and functionality are important requirements to Weg-ner, and so is timelessness. The natural warmth and a well-balanced character stand out in his furniture as he understands the nature of the wood and the possibilities and limitations of this, the most natural of all materials.

The China Chair from1944 was inspired by Chinese seating furniture from the 17th century. Like many of his other dining room chairs, the China Chair has characteristic back and arms bent in one piece. In the following years, Wegner designed many new chairs, in total over 200 designs. Among them are some of his most spectacular and famous pieces: The Peacock Chair (1947), The Folding Chair (1949), The Y-Chair (1959), The (Round) Chair (1950), The Flag Halyard Chair (1950) and The Valet Chair from 1953.

To design for the user is essential to Wegner - and never to compromise. ""A chair is not a chair until someone is sitting in it"". This statement was validated in 1961 when ""The Chair"" was used in the famous television debates between the two presi-dential candidates, John F. Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon.

Many of Hans J. Wegner's early handmade chairs required a lot of wood and time-consuming finishing after the frame was as-sembled. During the late 60s and early 70s Wegner adapted a number of his basic chair types for a more industrial manufacturing process. Fritz Hansen still manufactures the China Chair and ""Chair No. 1788"", a chair created by Wegner to complement his friend Boerge Mogensen's ""Spokeback Sofa"" from 1945.

""Hans J. Wegner"" - About Design. By Jens Bernsen, Danish Design Centre, 1994.
""Wegner - A Danish Furniture Artist"" by Johan Moeller Nielsen. Published by Gyldendal, 1965.
""Danish Furniture Design - In the Twentieth Century"", Vol. 1 + 2, by Arne Karlsen. Published by Christian Ejlers, 1990/1991.
""Modern Danish Furniture Design - A Brief Illustrated Descrip-tion"" by Frederik Sieck. Published by Bondo Gravesen, 1981.
""Danish Furniture Design"" - published by The Trapholt Museum, Kolding, Denmark, 1993.

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