As a driving force behind ‘Danish Modern’, Hans J. Wegner helped change the general public’s view of furniture in the 1950s and 1960s. His passion for designing chairs, more than 500 of them, is recognized worldwide and reflected in his title ‘the Master of the Chair’. He is famous for integrating perfectly executed joints with exquisite shapes and combining them with a constant curiosity for materials and deep respect for wood and its natural characteristics. His designs furnish minimalism with organic and natural softness.
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, designed in 1949 and produced by Carl Hansen & Søn since 1950, went on to become Wegner’s most successful design of all time.
Hans J. Wegner is considered one of the most creative and productive Danish furniture designers of all time. He has received several accolades given to designers, 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.
Carl Hansen & Søn’s alliance with Hans J. Wegner began in 1949 and resulted in the production of a wide range of Wegner designs spanning dining chairs, easy chairs, footrests, sofas and coffee tables, dining tables as well as high-end office furniture and children’s furniture. Wegner’s iconic designs from Carl Hansen & Søn include the Shell Chair, Wing Chair and Wishbone Chair.