Spotlight on Hans J. Wegner
May 16, 2011 4:42:13 PM
“Many foreigners have asked me how we made the Danish style. And I've answered that it...was rather a continuous process of purification, and for me of simplification, to cut down to the simplest possible elements of four legs, a seat and combined top rail and arm rest.”
In 1950, Interiors magazine put Hans. J. Wegner’s Round Chair on the cover and called it “the most beautiful chair in the world.” Today they might have added “sexy” because the curves gracing it and so many of Wegner’s other chair designs are sensual to look at and sensual to sit in. But people shouldn’t forget that Wegner also designed tables and desks, whose straight lines and architectural symmetry made a perfect match for Wegner’s celebrated seating.
Wegner was born in 1914 in Tønder, Denmark. Craftsmanship was in his blood. His father was a traditional cobbler, and as a boy Wegner apprenticed with a local carpenter, training as a cabinet maker.
Wegner was 22 in 1936 when he attended the School of Arts and Crafts in Copenhagen. He then worked as an assistant to renowned designers Erik Møller and Arne Jacobsen. In 1943, he opened his own office in the Nazi-occupied city.
The Second World War raged, making metal a rare commodity. It was only natural that wood remained Wegner’s material of choice. He favoured solid oak, beech, teak, ash and maple, but in the mid-60’s he also started working with laminated wood. Signature aspects of Wegner’s work are durability, functionality and, as we can see today, timelessness. His shapes and surfaces evoke a natural warmth and harmony of form, and celebrate both the possibilities and limitations of wood. Style, after all, is created by limitations.
Wegner’s reputation as one of the great emerging figures of the Danish Modern movement was sealed in 1951 when he was awarded the first Lunning Prize, which was instigated to promote Scandinavian design around the world. He received many awards, citations and accolades while he was alive, including the Grand Prix at the XI Milan Triennale in 1957. Two years later London’s Royal Society of Arts made him an Honorary Royal Designer for Industry.
Wegner died at the age of 92 in 2007.
Valet Chair (1943)
Peacock Chair (1947)
Wishbone Chair (Y Chair) (1949)
Round Chair (1949)
Ox Chair (1960)
Wing Chair (1960)
Shell Chair (1963)
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