Hans Wegner Chairs: “The Chair”

Continuing with the series of Hans Wegner chairs,  we are reviewing its most successful creations, like the Shell Chair. Now let’s take a look at one of its more famous creations: the model called just The Chair.

For a creator that made several of the most famous pieces of furniture of the XXth Century, even a success like this must make it feel full of pride. Why? Let’s take a look at this story.

The Chair  was designed by Hans Wegner in 1949. It’s a very elegant wood armchair, with a continuum rounded arch from one arm rest to the back seat and the other armrest. Its seat and back is upholstered with cane or leather. It has a very simplified and elegant design that invites you to have a good chat. Its known that Hans Wegner didn’t put names on his chairs, and in this case, this model became  so popular that it has several names. This way, in Denmark is known as the Rounded Chair; in Britain as the Classic Chair, and in America as The Chair.

 An unexpected international success

As it happens with many successful products in history, the great impact of The Chair wasn’t planned. Actually, The Chair wasn’t designed to be produced at scale. It was in the eve of the Copenhagen Cabinetmakers’s Guild Annual Exhibition of 1949, when The Chair was released, almost by accident.

Johannes  Hansen,  owner of the design house Hansen, previously asked Wegner to present two works in the exhibition. The two models chosen at the time were the Foldable Chair (JH512) and, the Tripartite Chair. While the expectations of Hansen and Wegner was that the Tripartite chair draw major attention, the final result was pretty surprising.

By that year, the expectations of the industry had to do with plywood, and how it would be used in all kinds of furniture. The Tripartite chair of Wegner, was the bet of the Hansen house in that trend. Nevertheless, Johannes asked Hans to design and present an additional classic design, because he had the impression that Plywood was overcrowding the exhibition.

Hans Wegner agreed and made the design in 48 hours.

The result was pretty satisfying for the House Hansen, and the bet turned to be rewarding. While European and Danish  press was highly interested in the Tripartite Chair, the American Press was definitely interested in the Rounded Chair, and make a big fuss about it when they get back.

 Almost immediately, The Chair caught a lot of attention. Differently to the Shell Chair, that had to wait for its time, the American Magazine Interiors named the Chair, as the Most beautiful Chair in the World. This was not only a big push for the Chair and the name of Hans Wegner, but a great impulse to all the Danish school of design (Danish Modern) and what later would be called Scandinavian design. Facing the great interest of the public and the demand expectations, the Hansen house started the manufacture of The Chair the next year, but they couldn’t cop the demand from America, that was always much larger than the limited capacity of the Hansen house.

Guided by artisan principles, the Hansen house had only 30 employees, with a maximum output of 3 Chairs per day, and the Hansen house should increase its output and introduces a redesign to attend the unexpected demand from abroad. But there is much more to tell, and that will be on other article.

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