Ole Wanscher

1903 - 1985

Ole Wanscher

Ole Wanscher has been described as the direct heir to Kaare Klint. He was a student of Klint and at the end of the 1920’s also worked in his studio. It was Wanscher who made the initial working drawing for the first version of The Red Chair which Klint designed for the Museum of Arts and Crafts (now Design Museum Denmark) in 1927. In his first independent furniture, Wanscher was greatly influenced by Klint and his first easy chair had both structural and aesthetics similarities with his former Professor’s furniture. But in the end Wanscher was not committed to Klint’s energetic endeavors to standardize furniture based on utility and he did not fully appreciate Klint’s captivation with numeric systems or his desire to attain a precise, easily recognizable form with the aid of spatial geometry. Over the years the more freely shaped chair, its organic drawn line endeavoring to closely embrace the human body, became Wanscher’s favorite subject.

Words like delicate, elegant and orderly come to mind when describing the designs of Ole Wanscher. Like Klint, Wanscher was inspired by classical furniture and he possessed a great interest in and knowledge about not only English 18th century furniture but also early Egyptian furniture. This influence is clearly evident in The Egyptian Stool from 1960; a slender and refined piece of furniture where luxurious materials and excellent craftsmanship is combined. Although Ole Wanscher took great interest in industrially made furniture and designed several pieces with this in mind, his finest work were made in collaboration with master Cabinetmaker A. J. Iversen.

When Kaare Klint died in 1954 Wanscher took over his professorship at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts’ Department of Furniture Design. In addition to his work as a furniture designer, Wanscher published numerous books about the history and aesthetics of furniture art. Like Klint, he didn’t understand the rejection of the past represented by the Bauhaus-school. But while Klint’s primary motive in studying things from the past was to qualify his own work, Wanscher sought to find an overview of furniture design and read it as an expression of earlier cultures’ conception of form. Wanscher did not weigh the different stylistic periods functional, structural and artistic results against one another or evaluate them from a subjective standard of value. He referred and described.