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Carl Hansen & Søn eMagazine issue #1

Architecture must originate in nature

Tadao Ando's partnership with Carl Hansen & Søn seems a natural progression of his career.

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In Ando's view, the meeting between building and nature is an essential aspect of architecture - one that is unfortunately lacking in the modern era. Ando seeks to reforge this connection in many of his works.

"My approach towards architecture is to create harmony between architecture and elements of nature; such as light, wind, the sounds of nature and waves, and rich sceneries. I want all these aspects to be combined with the ambition to create a comfortable space executed with the arrangements of the geometry."

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"The meeting between building and nature is an essential aspect of architecture"

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Natural materials and traditional craftsmanship are hugely important to Ando's caring and respectful approach to nature. This deep passion was among the reasons he chose to partner with Carl Hansen & Søn without a moment's hesitation. Ando knew that Carl Hansen & Søn has, for over a century, demonstrated expertise in using the finest craftsmanship to build wooden furniture designed by the world's best architects. The partnership, which has proved immensely and mutually inspiring, has now culminated in the launch of the Dream Chair.

One of the world's most influential architects, Ando brings to the table a fascinating, unconventional background. In 1951, at age 10, he started working as an apprentice for a local carpenter in Osaka, Japan. There, he had the opportunity to work with wood, building models to explore the material's countless properties. Ando was an exceptionally independently minded apprentice, preferring to work things out himself, without his master's involvement. At 15, he discovered a book of Le Corbusier's sketches that aroused his serious interest in architecture.

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"Ando has frequently cited his admiration for the Danish masters, often using their furniture in his own buildings"

Ando has never had formal training, but after a brief boxing career, he set off on long trips to Africa, the USA and Europe to study architecture on his own. In Finland and Sweden, he familiarised himself with the work of Aalto and Asplund; and in Denmark, he was deeply impressed by the iconic furniture of Hans J. Wegner and others. Since then, Ando has frequently cited his admiration for the Danish masters, often using their furniture in his own buildings. Designing furniture for Carl Hansen & Søn thus seemed an appropriate next step.

Since founding Tadao Ando Architects & Associates in 1969, Ando has constructed over 150 buildings of all sizes. In Japan, his numerous works include the Row House Sumiyoshi, the Awaji Yumebutai International Conference Center, the Church of Light in Osaka, and the Rokko Housing complex. Among his many international projects are the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth in Texas, Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts in St. Louis, the Punta Bella Dogana Museum in Venice, and the Siddhartha Children and Women Hospital in Nepal.

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"Row House Sumiyoshi, Osaka"

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"Church of Light, Ibaraki, Osaka"

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"Pullitzer Foundation for the Arts, St .Louis, Missouri, USA"

Ando has won many prestigious awards over the course of his career, including the Carlsberg Architectural Prize in 1992, the Pritzker Prize in 1995, the Premium Imperiale in 1996 and the Gold Medal of the Royal Institute of British Architects in 1997.

Ando's architecture is characterised by its simple, clean lines, self-assured spaces, and stringent, geometric layouts. The powerful, minimalist expression of his buildings unites the Japanese design traditions with western Modernism.

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" The powerful, minimalist expression of his buildings unites the Japanese design traditions with western Modernism"

Ando's constructions are often executed exclusively in concrete - a material whose possibilities he has explored throughout his career. He is known for his work with in-situ concrete, using smooth plywood sheets for casting the concrete to give it a smooth surface - apart from the holes left by the mould, which have become part of his architectural signature. Ando's choice of materials - combined with the use of sound and daylight, of which he is also a sublime master - defines spaces and volumes, making them stand out more clearly.

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Chichu Art Museum, Naoshima, Kagawa

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4x4 House, Kobe, Hyogo

Built in 2004 on the island of Naoshima in southern Japan, the Chichu Art Museum epitomises the essence of Ando's architectural philosophy. The unusual museum houses a permanent exhibition of works by Claude Monet, James Turell and Walter De Maria.  To avoid intruding on the island's spectacular natural beauty, the art museum has been built into a mountainside, underground. Although almost invisible, the building features geometric protrusions one can see from the air. In designing the Chichu Art Museum, Ando wanted to rethink the relationship between nature and people, and his solution is a triumph. 

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"Although almost invisible, the Chichu Art Museum features geometric protrusions one can see from the air"

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"Despite the museum´s subterranean location, the galleries are amply illuminated with daylight"

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"To aviod intruding on the island´s spectacular natural beauty, the art museum has been built into a mountainside, underground".

Visitors cannot fail to be captivated by the spirituality of the place and the dramatic encounter of earth, sea, sky, architecture and art.

Despite the museum's subterranean location, the galleries are amply illuminated with daylight, which Ando varies and controls to alter the appearance of the artworks and the ambiance of the rooms throughout the day and seasons.

The elegantly designed rooms provide a beautiful backdrop for art but are also suitable for sculptural pieces of furniture. Ando personally suggested the Chichu Art Museum as the ideal setting for photo shoots of the Dream Chair, which references his architecture in many ways: "I decided to have the photo shoot of the Dream Chair at Chichu Art Museum in Naoshima because I believe the museum is one of the finest examples expressing my interpretation of space and approach towards architecture. I see a similar intention with the Dream Chair."

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"Ando personally suggested the Chichu Art Museum as the ideal setting for photo shoots of the Dream Chair"

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"The Dream chair and the museum are each created from one material - three dimensional plywood and concrete, respectively."

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"I decided to have the photo shoot of the Dream chair at Chichu art museum because i believe the museum is one of the finest examples expressing my interpretation of space and approach towards architecture. I see a similar intention with the Dream Chair"

The chair and museum interior are each created from one material - three-dimensional plywood and concrete, respectively. The concrete surfaces offer a clean, expansive backdrop for the Dream Chair, while soft daylight from various angles directly and indirectly accentuates the chair's organic lines. The smooth, grey concrete also contrasts with and complements the warm undertones of both the oak and walnut versions of the Dream Chair.

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"The Dream Chair at Chichu Art Museum, Naoshima" 

Created for dreaming

A collaboration between Tadao Ando and Carl Hansen & Søn was, in many ways, inevitable - particularly given the shared values underlying their respective bodies of work. The launch of the innovative Dream Chair marks the culmination of the symbiotic partnership.

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"Carl Hansen & Søn´s invitation to design a chair was a great challenge, and one that Ando accepted with joy and humility"

As one of the world's leading and most respected architects, Tadao Ando has created over 150 architectural works around the world. Yet while he had selected chairs designed by architects and designers for a number of his buildings, he had never himself created a piece of furniture. Carl Hansen & Søn's invitation to design a chair was therefore a great challenge, and one that Ando accepted with joy and humility.

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"Needless to say, I learned about the architecture and arts of Europe, and was particularly impacted by the work of the Danish furniture masters  - such as Hans J. wegner"

 Ando became aware of Scandinavian architecture as a young man, and was captivated by Danish furniture design and its quality craftsmanship. Ando is a self-taught architect - and while demanding, his independent path has allowed him to choose which masters to study. "Needless to say, I learned about the architecture and arts of Europe, and was particularly impacted by the work of the Danish furniture masters. The remarkable craftsmanship and design inherent to Hans J. Wegner and Arne Jacobsen's iconic work appealed to me at first sight," says Ando.

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"The Japanese architectural tradition has always been closely tied to nature"

The Japanese architectural tradition has always been closely tied to nature, which the Japanese have excelled at integrating beautifully into their immediate physical surroundings. This talent led to the development of Japan's unique building tradition and craftsmanship, which have inspired generations of Western architects. But according to Ando, Japan is now in the process of losing its fundamental connection to the natural world. 

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"The passion and respect for wood visibly shines through Danish furniture"

"We should go back to our roots and reevaluate what nature offers us. I very much admire Northern Europeans' respect for the natural environment, and their ability to develop high-level, sustainable timber technology. The passion and respect for wood visibly shines through Danish furniture," says Ando, pointing to Carl Hansen & Søn's design philosophy. For over 100 years, the company has produced sustainable furniture of enduring beauty using natural materials and traditional craftsmanship.

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"It was an honor to be considered to contribute to Carl hansen & Søn´s collection, which includes such masterpieces as Wegner´s Wishbone Chair"

Ando found his encounter with Carl Hansen & Søn's furniture makers inspiring from the outset. "I was touched by the passion I encountered at Carl Hansen & Søn - and the company's clear intention of creating no-less-than-perfect wooden furniture," he says. "It was an honor to be considered to contribute to their collection, which includes such masterpieces as Wegner's Wishbone Chair. The quality they deliver is so high that I was greatly inspired to work very hard to meet their expectations."

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"My intention was to create a piece that provides not only physical comfort, but gives people hope"

Before setting out to develop a new chair, Ando asked himself the basic question of what a lounge chair should offer, arriving at this: "In my mind, a chair should inspire you to sit in it and feel comfortable. It must hold aesthetic values, too - it has to look beautiful. My intention was to create a piece that provides not only physical comfort, but gives people hope; gives them a space and time to think about themselves and their future. I imagined a piece of furniture that inspires you to dream." Based on these objectives, it was obvious that the resulting design should be called the Dream Chair.

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" The development work between Ando and Carl Hansen & Søn´s factory in Aarup, Denmark required ongoing intercontinental communication, numerous meeting, and the production of several mock ups".

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The development work between Ando and Carl Hansen & Søn's factory in Aarup, Denmark required ongoing intercontinental communication, numerous meetings, and the production of several mock-ups. The result - presented as a prototype in Milan in April 2012 - is a sculptural, almost floating chair ideal for large rooms, where it can be enjoyed from many angles. The Dream Chair is also comfortable, allowing relaxed reflection.

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"Using concrete as a simple, single material to evoke rich space parallels the idea of using a single material - veneer sheet - to define the chair"

In his new role as a furniture designer, Ando was able to draw on his room design experience. "When developing the Dream Chair, I took an approach similar to the one I pursue in architecture. Using concrete as a simple, single material to evoke rich space parallels the idea of using a single material - veneer sheet - to define the chair."

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"The Dream chair is made of three-dimensional oak or beech veneer sheet, which is curved along two axes during the moulding process"

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"Dream chair by Tadao Ando, Chichu Art Museum, Naoshima"

The Dream Chair is made of three-dimensional oak or beech veneer sheet, which is curved along two axes during the moulding process. Working closely with Carl Hansen & Søn cabinetmakers, Ando shifted the boundaries for what was considered possible using this material. Commenting on the exciting process, he says: "Achieving simple veneer sheet curves is a long-established technology. We wanted to step forward and exceed the two-dimensional curvature limitation. We pushed the limits of our chosen veneer sheet size, bending it at new angles to achieve a dimension and form that fits to become a chair."

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"The Dream chair was launched at Salone Del Mobile in 2013"

We live in a time characterised by rapid development - also in architecture and furniture design - and continual experimentation to find new ways to offer comfort and new solutions that can satisfy modern users' needs. Against this backdrop, Tadao Ando encourages reflection: "Innovation is important - but we should not forget our roots and our relationship to the environment. In that sense, companies like Carl Hansen & Søn - where such values are highly respected, having crystallized over 100 years - serve as an excellent example we can learn from."

Experience the craftsmanship going into making the Dream Chair.  

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The unconscious beauty of everyday objects

The requirements for new furniture in the Norwegian Government's building no. 6 in Oslo were challenging and exciting. Among other things, the furniture had to simultaneously be institutional, formal - and relaxed. 

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"My furniture selection is based on a number of different project requirements. However, there is one thing I always look for, whatever the nature of the project. A piece should never look like there has been a great deal of effort behind it. Rather, it should suggest that the process has been a breeze - that the result has been almost automatic. This is certainly the case for the furniture chosen for this project."

These are the words of Mirjana Grahovac, an architect at Narud Stokke Wiig, the company responsible for furnishing a number of new spaces belonging to the Norwegian government, referred to as R6. Statsbygg, the Norwegian Government's central advisory agency for building and property matters, coordinated the project.

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"Mirjana Grahovac, architect at Narud Stokke Wiig"

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"The newly furnished premises house the departments of healthcare, agriculture and food and some of the depatrment´s service functions"

The addition and interior design of the new locales respond to a need for more space and the desire to better unite government departments. The project involved furnishing buildings built in 2011 and 1899 in the Teatergata and Keysergata, respectively, in central Oslo. The newly furnished premises house the departments of healthcare, agriculture and food, and some of the departments' service functions. Narud Stokke Wiig Architects, which completed the complex task of furnishing the departments in 2012, is an Oslo-based studio with a branch office in Lofoten, Norway. Narud Stokke Wiig has deliberately avoided specialising, which has enabled the studio to take on diverse projects including new construction, transformation and urban planning as well as urban, industrial and graphic design and décor. 

As Grahovac explains, a government project like R6 had to meet very specific requirements:"A public building represents the Norwegian Government and must signal both authority and democracy. This means that the furniture must have an institutional, formal look, while also being relaxed and inviting. It must also add an intimate touch to a room without making it seem private. It must not clamour for attention, but should be compelling in its design, materials and workmanship. The design must be beautiful, unglamorous, simple and timeless, so users will not tire of looking at the furniture. The timeless quality makes the furniture an investment in the future. The pieces will have a very long life cycle, which also makes them eco-friendly."

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"The main entrance of the Norwegian Government´s building no. 6 in Oslo"

The main entrance is located in one of the project's new buildings in Teatergata. Visitors are led into a large rectangular hall with glass on four sides. The very minimalistic space features circular, freestanding concrete columns, bare concrete walls, and a light terrazzo floor. By virtue of its materials, the hall exudes great coolness, and the sparse furniture had to match the simplicity while also adding warmth. The team chose brown leather-covered sofas designed by Hans J. Wegner. The accompanying coffee tables, also by Wegner, have walnut tabletops.

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"The hall exudes great coolness and the sparse furniture had to match the simplicity  while also adding warmth. Here the team chose Hans J. Wegner´s CH404 sofa originally designed for Copenhagen airport"

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"The requirements for the new furniture were challenging and exciting. Among other things, the furniture had to simultaneously be institutional, formal - and relaxed"

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"Sofa 404 and coffee table CH413 with tabletop in walnut"

Widow's Hall is a large multifunction room located in a building from last century that has been integrated with the new constructions. So-called because it was here that widows came in the early 1900s to receive pension payments for their deceased husbands, Widows' Hall has not previously been used by the government, although it has, among other things, been used for filming. The historic, heritage-listed interior from 1899 is therefore well preserved. Its columns and walls are covered with carved, varnished wooden panels; above the panels, the walls are plastered dark green. The floor is partially divided into walking areas with patterned yellow and grey ceramic floor tiles, and lounge areas covered with brown linoleum.

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"The Widow´s Hall. The historic, heritage-listed interior from 1899"

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"In Widow´s Hall, it was vital to select furniture that in no way imitates the characteristic expression of the interior, but rather marks its independence in the space with its modern and classic essence"

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"The choice of sofa fell on Kaare Klint´s Addition Sofa in leather designed in 1933 and Hans J. Wegner´s Shell Chair designed in 1963"

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"The upholstery colors - in both leather and textiles - have been kept in the same brown hues as the panels of the rooms"

"In Widow's Hall, it was vital to select furniture that in no way imitates the characteristic expression of the interior, but rather marks its independence in the space with its modern and classic essence," explains Grahovac, adhering to the approach of Japanese architect Sori Yanagi, who upheld the 'unconscious beauty of everyday objects.' The highly versatile room has been furnished to accommodate both small and large meetings. All the furniture in the room is made of oil-treated oak, in harmony with the panels and columns.

The choice of sofa fell on Kaare Klint's Addition Sofa in leather, designed in 1933. Inspired by a French rococo sofa, it was elegantly simplified and designed to make it easy to move around. Wegner's Shell Chair, with an upholstered seat and backrest, complements groups of Addition Sofas. 

The upholstery colours - in both leather and textiles - have been kept in the same brown hues as the panels. The furniture thus complements the room interior in terms of colour while contrasting in shape.

A pentagonal meeting room on the second floor has been furnished with a round table and six CH445 armchairs designed by Hans J. Wegner. "The chairs' organic forms help shape the room architecturally. Choosing several chairs rather than a few sofas has other advantages. Having more objects means there are more textiles in the room, improving acoustics. And a carelessly positioned sofa could spoil the pentagonal room, whereas the sculptural chairs cannot be arranged incorrectly. However you position them, they simply sit and speak kindly to each other" Grahovac concludes.

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"Choosing several chairs rather than a few sofas has other advantages. Having more objects mean there are more textiles in the room, improving acoustics "

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"The chairs´organic forms help shape the room architecturally"

Private dining at Noma

Guests at Noma in Copenhagen can choose to enjoy their meals in a smaller dining room above the restaurant while seated in Wegner chairs made of smoked oak.

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"Noma is situated at Christianshavn in Copenhagen providing guests with a spectacular view of the harbour"

Certain phenomena around the world are synonymous with outstanding quality. One such example is Hans J. Wegner who, beginning in 1940, created furniture for 50 years and achieved a level of beauty and function unsurpassed to this day. Noma, with its uncompromising Nordic cuisine, is another such phenomenon. Restaurant Magazine crowned Noma the world's best restaurant for three consectutive years in 2010, 2011 and 2012. Noma also holds two Michelin stars.

Since Noma was founded elleven years ago, the restaurant owners, management and staff have worked hard to maintain and improve quality throughout - including in interior design - to ensure a holistic experience that speaks to all the senses. 

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"When you sit up here, you are even closer to Noma," says Peter Kreiner, CEO."

"The food, of course, takes centre stage, but it certainly interacts with a number of other factors," says Peter Kreiner, Noma's CEO since 2005. "The human experience - the service we offer - has a tremendous impact. But the setting is also crucial. The seating comfort, the table, the distance to other guests, the lighting and the sound level - they all interplay. Guests have to feel they are in a private setting, while also being able to enjoy the room's dynamics, mood and atmosphere."

Some years ago, Noma added a smaller, private dining room on the floor above the main restaurant for parties of two to 15, with the same menu and the same experience, served by the same staff as in the main restaurant.

"We wanted the dining room's furnishings to have clear links to the main restaurant, but with a more playful feel. When you sit up here, you are even closer to Noma," says Peter Kreiner.

The 5x12-metre room called for a long table. We then had to find the right chair, which had to meet several requirements. The most basic was durability: being able to handle being moved around and used hour after hour - and to look all the better for it.

"Its visual expression was equally important. It had to have edge and signal quality. We wanted a chair with a good seat and armrests, because our guests sit here for many hours. We tested several chairs, and it was the CH46 that met all our requirements. We were very happy we could get it in smoked oak - and fell for the fact that this isn't a chair you see every day. We consciously chose a design different from what we have in the restaurant. We wanted the chair to stand on its own and contribute to the unique identity of the space.

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 "The CH46 dining chair by Hans J. Wegner was designed in 1965. This version is made in smoked oak with a seat in natural papercord"

"To put the process of selecting furniture in a nutshell, I would say that the creative has to blend with the functional such that two plus two equals five. That is the essence. It was also natural for us to look for something close to our own roots. We Danes are quite proud of our design achievements, and Hans J. Wegner is an important part of this picture."

Managing nature

Just 14 months after opening, Maaemo received two Michelin stars for its original cuisine, based exclusively on organic Norwegian ingredients. The restaurant's décor, with chairs by Carl Hansen & Søn, also follows this natural principle. 

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Maaemo's guests arrive via a broad outdoor staircase leading up to a large plateau. Located in Schweigaards gate, in the quarter behind Oslo's central station, the restaurant is housed in a modern building with glass façades. As you enter the double-ceiling room, you get the sense of arriving in a megacity - a sensation accentuated by the panoramic views of modern, glass-and-steel high-rises that constitute Oslo's new business district, aptly known as Barcode.

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"The setting is international in the diverse quarter behind Oslo´s central station"

The setting is international in the diverse quarter behind Oslo's central station - and the location an unexpected choice for a restaurant in Oslo - yet Maaemo's concept is deeply personal, singularly Norwegian, and inspired by the idea of using locally produced organic and biodynamic ingredients.

Maaemo, which means Mother Earth in Finnish, is the brainchild of three passionate and committed spirits: Dane Esben Holmboe Bang, Finn Pontus Dahlström and Norwegian Jon-Frede Engdahl.

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"Esben Holmboe Bang"

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"Pontus Dahlström"

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"Jon-Frede Engdahl"

After working intensively to develop the Maaemo concept, they threw open the doors of their innovative restaurant in December 2010. Many Norwegians are sceptical about organic products and methods, but when Maaemo garnered two Michelin stars a mere 14 months after opening, the cynicism abated. Would-be diners now have to wait several months for a table.

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"As chefs, we have a responsibility to the natural environment, and our goal is to get as close to nature as possible"

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"As chefs, we have a responsibility to the natural environment, and our goal is to get as close to nature as possible," says Jon-Frede Engdahl, who, in addition to being a Maaemo partner, also runs Kolonihagen on Frognerveien in Oslo - a combined café, bakery and shop selling organic and biodynamic food products. "Norway boasts the world's best fish and seafood, and the Norwegian countryside offers a wealth of exciting berries, plants and herbs. However, the growing season for country produce is very short, which means we have to be extremely creative in the way we treat and use the raw ingredients. We generally know our suppliers well and visit them all."

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"Nothing at Maaemo is left to chance, and each element has its place in a harmonious entity"

Nothing at Maaemo is left to chance, and each element has its place in a harmonious entity. Entirely in keeping with this, the interior design is a logical consequence of the restaurant's fundamental concept.

 "To create the perfect look for the restaurant, we spent a lot of time discussing the emotional values we wanted Maaemo to embody. We wanted a look that was honest, authentic, natural - and as Norwegian as possible," says Engdahl.

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"Maaemo´s decor is muted, with no superfluous embellishments"

The restaurant has eight tables with room for 24 diners, who can enjoy a view of the army of chefs working busily on the inserted kitchen storey. There is plenty of space between the tables - enough, in fact, to seat twice as many guests, but this would have been at odds with the concept of attentive, personal service that is a high priority at Maaemo.

Maaemo's décor is muted, with no superfluous embellishments. White tablecloths cover the tables; the glasses and cutlery are extremely simple to avoid drawing attention away from the main focus: the food. The plates and serving platters are designed by Norwegian ceramic artists, although wood and stone are also used to serve the food.

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"The dining chair we chose for the restaurant was very important in terms of both function and expression. We put a lot of thought into what we wanted from this particular element," explains Engdahl." 

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" The CH20 was designed in 1956 and has classic style. It's exceptionally comfortable because the backrest provides perfect support for your back while giving you freedom to move and turn comfortably to either side."

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" We chose the version in soap-washed ash with a pale leather seat for its natural, elegant and pure finish."

"The dining chair we chose for the restaurant was very important in terms of both function and expression. We put a lot of thought into what we wanted from this particular element," explains Engdahl. "We scoured the market for suitable chairs designed by Nordic masters and finally decided on Wegner.

 "We considered the Wishbone Chair, which really appealed to us, but once we'd tried the CH20 Elbow Chair, we didn't look back. The CH20 was designed in 1956 and has classic style. It's exceptionally comfortable because the backrest provides perfect support for your back while giving you freedom to move and turn comfortably to either side. The chair is clearly made from high quality materials and finely crafted. And it has a textural quality that harmonises beautifully with our core values.

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" We're convinced that guests can only have a sublime experience if all the elements involved have real value and meaning."

We chose the version in soap-washed ash with a pale leather seat for its natural, elegant and pure finish. The soap-washed version requires light but frequent cleaning, but the effort is well worth it."

"We had a limited budget, so choosing a chair of CH20's calibre meant we had to simplify other elements of the décor. It's hard to define the myriad factors that go into creating the ultimate restaurant experience. However, we're convinced that guests can only have a sublime experience if all the elements involved have real value and meaning. If we had bought an imitation chair, we would have compromised our own standards of quality and originality. And we couldn't have lived with that."

More than 100 years of craftsmanship

Browse through more than 100 years of Carl Hansen & Søn´s history of craftsmanship, design and long standing traditions.

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Carl Hansen, a trained cabinetmaker, opened his furniture workshop in Odense, Denmark in 1908 and soon became known for the high quality of his work.

In the early days, the company produced bespoke furniture - including everything from dining room sets to bedroom suites. As the company grew and times changed, the company gradually began to produce smaller series of its most popular pieces. In 1915, Carl Hansen took the major step from owning a workshop to opening a factory in a new location with room for machinery and journeymen.

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Carl Hansen's workshop at Klaregade

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Carl Hansen (1908-1959)

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Journeymen at Carl Hansen´s factory

The company was doing well and in 1933, Carl Hansen decided it was time to build a new modern factory outside the city of Odense at Kochsgade.

In 1934 Carl Hansen experiences heart failure and his illness forced his son Holger Hansen, just aged 23, to take over the running of the company. As part of his new position, Holger Hansen convinced his father to focus on chairs rather than bedroom furniture. Ackowledging the new business direction, Carl toke his son Holger as partner in 1943 under the company name Carl Hansen & Søn.

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The factory at Kochsgade

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In the 1940s Carl Hansen & Søn started cooperation with the already then highly regarded Danish architect, Frits Henningsen. Henningsen designed a series of Windsor chairs and Carl Hansen & Søn produced some of the models until 2003.

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Frits Henningsens Windsor chair for Carl Hansen & Søn.

Holger Hansen's sales manager at the time, Ejvind Kold Kristensen, kept a close eye on the new breed of Danish furniture designers that began to emerge in the 1940s. Kold Kristensen was especially impressed by Hans J. Wegner, whose designs won critical acclaim at exhibitions, but was relatively unknown outside of specialist circles. Kold Kristensen had no doubt that Hans J. Wegner was a designer who could propel Carl Hansen & Søn into the next level of growth.

He approached Hans J. Wegner in the late 1940´s and the collaboration between. Hans J. Wegner and Carl Hansen & Søn began shortly thereafter.

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Hans J. Wegner was both a gifted designer and a skilled craftsman.

Hans J. Wegner designed four chairs especially for Carl Hansen & Søn in 1949 - all of which came into production and were launched in 1950.

Among the first four chairs was the legendary Wishbone Chair, CH24 and the beautiful easy chair with seat and back in uninterrupted paper cord weave, the CH25 - both have been in production ever since.

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CH24, also known as the Wishbone chair, was designed in 1949 by Hans J. Wegner

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The CH25 easy chair was designed in 1949 by Hans J. Wegner

Holger Hansen, himself a master cabinetmaker as well as a skilled businessman, worked closely with Hans J. Wegner to adapt the company's series production to the radically different designs.

Dedicating the majority of the production to a rather unknown design was a huge gamble for Holger Hansen at the time. The designs were no immediate success but after a few years the interest for Hans J. Wegner´s designs grew both in Denmark and abroad.

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The CH24 was supposed to be an easy chair to manufacture but turned out to be anything but. It still takes over 100 manual operations to make the chair.

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It takes a skilled craftsman 8-10 hours to weave the CH25 easy chair.

Holger Hansen, Ejvind Kold Kristensen and Hans J. Wegner formalized their cooperation in 1951, joining with other Danish furniture manufacturers of Hans J. Wegner´s designs, to form SALESCO, a unique sales and marketing company that promoted Hans J. Wegner's work both in Denmark and abroad during the 1950s and 1960s.

SALESCO played an important role in promoting "Danish Modern" furniture internationally and"Danish Design" began to capture interest around the world.

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Holger Hansen

SALESCO, however, did not last forever. First, Kold Kristensen left in order to work with another promising young designer, Poul Kjærholm. Then Holger Hansen dies suddenly - and all too soon - in 1962.

Holger Hansen's widow, Ella Hansen, decided to keep Carl Hansen & Søn in the family and led it through difficult times with the help of her dedicated staff - a remarkable achievement for a woman of her days. Her son, Jørgen Gerner Hansen, took over management of the company in 1988. At this time the factory was still in the same location as Carl Hansen moved it to in the 1930s.

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Jørgen Gerner Hansen

Holger and Ella Hansen's second-youngest son, Knud Erik Hansen, assumed leadership of the company in 2001. Since then, Carl Hansen & Søn has built a new, modern factory in Aarup outside Odense, Denmark.

At the factory in Aarup, Carl Hansen & Søn still produce design furniture such as dining tables and chairs, easy chairs, stools, sofas and coffee tables as well as office- and children's furniture - all in the same high quality - especially through a continued focus on years of proud tradition of craftsmanship combined with the best modern technologies available.

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Knud Erik Hansen, third generation and CEO of Carl Hansen & Søn today.

Today, Carl Hansen & Søn is the largest manufacturer of furniture designed by Hans J. Wegner. Carl Hansen & Søn has a close cooperation with the Hans J. Wegner Studio, which enables Carl Hansen & Søn to introduce or re-introduce outstanding designs from the treasure chest that Hans J. Wegner left behind.

Carl Hansen & Søn also produces outstanding furniture classics by some of Denmark's most influential architects such as Mogens Koch, Kaare Klint and Ole Wanscher.

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The Safari Chair by Kaare Klint, designed in 1933.

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The Folding Chair by Mogens Koch, designed in 1932.

Carl Hansen & Søn also continues to find and incorporate new designers like the Danish design duo Strand & Hvass and Thomas Bo Kastholm, son of the famous Danish architect Jørgen Kastholm. In 2011 and 2012, Carl Hansen & Søn bought the renowned Danish cabinet maker Rud. Rasmussen´s in Copenhagen and the Danish furniture manufacturer P.J. Furniture in Store Heddinge. Thereby enabling an even more specialized manufacturing of classic Danish design furniture such as Mogens Koch´s bookcase system and Ole Wanscher´s Colonial Chair.

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In 2013 Carl Hansen & Søn re-launched a chair by the famous Danish architect Frits Henningsen named the Heritage Chair- Henningsen which Carl Hansen collaborated with the first time back in the 1940s.

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Internationally, Carl Hansen & Søn has recently started a design collaboration with the world famous Japanese architect Tadao Ando which has resulted in the Dream Chair, introduced at the Salone del Mobile in 2013.

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True to the company's founding values, it is Carl Hansen & Søn's ambition to make furniture of highest quality, remaining beauty and value with respect for sustainable design, materials and more than 100 years of traditions of craftsmanship.

Experience the full history of Carl Hansen & Søn!