Hans J. Wegner
1914 - 2007
With his love of natural materials and a deep understanding of the need for furniture to be functional as well as beautiful, Hans J. Wegner made mid-century Danish design popular on an international scale. With more than 500 different chair designs Wegner is the most prolific Danish designer to date. His international breakthrough and greatest sales success came in 1949 when he designed The Round chair. The American Interiors Magazine referred to it as "the world's most beautiful chair" and the chair rose to further stardom when used in the televised presidential debates between Nixon and Kennedy in 1960. It has since been known as simply "The Chair".
Wegner began his career as a cabinetmaker in 1931 and subsequently entered the Copenhagen School of Arts & Crafts. After receiving his architectural degree in 1938, he worked as a designer in Arne Jacobsen and Erik Møller's architectural office before establishing his own in 1943.
The real beauty of Wegner's genius must be seen in context with his legendary and longstanding collaboration with master cabinetmaker Johannes Hansen. Every year from 1941-1966 they presented their work at the Cabinetmaker's Guild Exhibitions. A cabinetmaker himself, Wegner took part in the entire production process. After completing the drawings, he was in the workshop with the cabinetmakers carrying out the prototypes and overseeing the workmanship. He had a deep understanding for the nature of wood, its possibilities as well as its limitations, and together with the cabinetmakers he strived to find the most constructive solutions. But the solutions never compromised the beauty of the finished piece of furniture. On the contrary Wegner had a fondness for making the joinery so beautiful that it stood out and became a decorative part of the finished design. Hans Wegner's design went on to win worldwide recognition through the 1950's and 1960's and his furniture, in particular his chairs, are to be found in the permanent collections of the world's most prestigious museums.