Denmark’s worldwide reputation for good design is assured. Less well known is the name of Hans J. Wegner, one of the designers who has done the most to establish that reputation.
Internationally acclaimed as one of the twentieth century’s most important and prolific designers, some of Hans Wegner’s works are now considered to be milestones in the history of design.
Wegner was born in 1914 into a family of cobblers in the small town of Tønder in Denmark’s south. As a young man he worked as an apprentice to a local cabinetmaker before studying at Copenhagen’s School of Arts and Crafts.
Once he had finished university, he started working as an architect in the studio of Arne Jacobsen and Erik Møller. This presented him with his first opportunity to make a name for himself: in 1940, the studio was commissioned to design a new town hall for Aarhus and Wagner was chosen to design the building’s interior furnishings.
Some years later he opened his own studio – the place where some of his most celebrated creations, such as the Round Chair, would take form. Many consider this to be his most representative work and its iconic status has led to its being known simply as ‘The Chair’. It gained a footnote in history when it was used on the TV stage of the first Kennedy-Nixon debate in 1960.
Wegner’s work is distinguished by its essential design and the meticulous care given to it. Wood is the preferred material, and comfort the guiding principle to which all Wegner’s creations adhere.
During his career, Wegner designed more than a thousand pieces of furniture, around half of which are chairs. This enormous output contributed to the conferring of the title by which he would become known, the ‘Master of the Chair’. He won several prizes and awards and nowadays his works continue to be regarded as real icons of design, exhibited in some of the world’s most important museums. He passed away in Denmark in 2007 at the age of 92.
Some of the principal furniture designers entitled to produce his creations include Carl Hansen & Søn, PP Møbler, Fritz Hansen and Erik Jørgensen.
Tønder, October 2017