Hans J. Wegner is widely considered to be one of the leading figures in 20th century furniture design - and a driving force in the “Danish Modern” movement that changed the way people looked at furniture in the 1950s and 1960s.
Hans J. Wegner was born in 1914 in Tønder, the son of a
shoemaker. At the age of 17 he was apprenticed to a carpenter (H.
F. Stahlberg) and it was at this time that he developed his first
design. At the age of 20 he moved to Copenhagen to study at the
institution now known as The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts,
School of Design but which back then went under the more modest
title of "The Artisan College."
He studied there from 1936-1938, before taking further studies
as an architect. In 1940 Wegner initiated a joint project with
Arne Jacobsen and Erik Møller in Aarhus, which involved fitting out
Aarhus' town hall. It was also in 1940 that Wegner began to work
with Master Carpenter Johannes Hansen, a man who played a
significant role in bringing modern design to the Danish public.
The then Copenhagen Industrial Art Museum (now Design Museum
Denmark) purchased their first Wegner chair in 1942. Hans J.
Wegner opened his own design studio in 1943, and in 1944 he
designed his first "China Chair" in a series inspired by the
Chinese Emperor's thrones.
One of the chairs in this series is what is probably Wegner's
most famous work "The Wishbone Chair," which he designed in 1949,
and which Carl Hansen & Søn have manufactured since
1950. Hans J. Wegner is regarded as one of the world's
outstanding furniture designers. He was one of the motive forces
behind the Danish Modern movement which did much to change people's
view of furniture in the 1950s and 60s. His design retain relevance
for us today and his sense for details is a source of constant
Wegner has received a number of prizes and recognitions. Amongst
other things, he is an honorary member of The Royal Danish Academy
of Fine Arts and has received an honorary doctorate from the Royal
College of Art in London. He was also the first ever recipient of
the Lunning Prize and received the 8th International Design Award
in Osaka, Japan. His works are exhibited at major international
museums including The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York and
Die Neue Sammlung in Munich.
Hans J. Wegner died in Denmark in January 2007
Hans J. Wegner's contributions to Danish design:
- A master carpenter first and a designer second: Perfectly
finished joints and exquisite forms.
- A deep respect for the wood and its character and an
everlasting curiosity about good materials.
- He gave minimalism an organic and natural softness.
- He is considered as "the master chair-maker" and designed more
than 500 chairs during the course of his life.