Carl Hansen & Søn eMagazine issue #2
"Imagine if you could design just one good chair in your lifetime - but that simply cannot be done," Hans J. Wegner said in 1952. The statement seems strikingly paradoxical coming from the man regarded as one the world's most talented furniture designers. Yet it is the key to understanding Wegner's conviction that designing the perfect chair is a task that is never complete.
Over the course of his life, Wegner designed a wealth of exceptional furniture items, including innovative tables. Yet his place in design history rests above all on his wide range of chairs, each of them highly original and completely natural in appearance.
"Imagine if you could design just one good chair in your lifetime - but that simply cannot be done" Hans J. Wegner, 1952.
Wegner had a great passion for creating and was extremely productive. Approximately 500 of his furniture designs have been in production over the years, with about 100 in production today.
Wegner's grasp of wood's potential was unparalleled. He was, no question, a master cabinetmaker, but it was his creativity and extraordinary sense of sculptural expression that made him a pioneer of Danish Modernism, the movement that drove Danish design's international breakthrough in the years after World War II.
"In his first three weeks at Carl Hansen & Søn, Wegner designed four chairs - CH22, CH23, CH24 and CH25. CH24 is the product code for the now iconic and world-famous Wishbone Chair."
"Wegner's first collection was unveiled in 1950 and was an immediate success. Further proof of Wegner's innate talent came in the fact that two of the chairs from the initial collection - CH24 and CH25 has been in continuous production ever since."
Wegner became the main spokesman for Organic Modernism, which contained elements Functionalism lacked: a genuine interest in the interaction between product and user, as well as an organic sense of form. For Wegner, the experience was not limited to the visual: a chair should speak to all of our senses, and he was particularly uncompromising in his pursuit of comfort.
Reflecting on his role as a pioneer, Wegner once said in an interview: "Many foreigners have asked me how we created the Danish style. My answer is that we did nothing of the sort. It was more of an ongoing purification process. For me it was about simplification, reducing the elements to the barest minimum - four legs, a seat and a combined backrest and armrest."
"The Wishbone Chair and CH327 Table in a MIX of walnut and oak."
A young talent
Hans J. Wegner's uncommon flair for design was evident from boyhood. But his opportunities to develop his abilities and his attainment of worldwide fame at 35 were owed also to the people he met on his journey who recognized his potential. His relationships with some of these people endured throughout his life. They became his partners, and their companies produced and marketed his furniture. One of these was - and continues to be - Carl Hansen & Søn.
"For me it was about simplification, reducing the elements to the barest minimum - four legs, a seat and a combined backrest and armrest." Wegner."
Wegner was born in 1914 in the Danish town of Tønder in Southern Jutland. He became a cabinetmaker's apprentice at a young age, having discovered his love of and ability to work with wood early on. He later studied at a technical college and at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen. At 24, he began producing his own furniture, attracting increasing attention from the industry in years that followed - not least from Carl Hansen & Søn, which offered to partner with Wegner in 1949. This partnership led to Wegner's commercial breakthrough and was a defining moment for Carl Hansen & Søn.
The partnership begins
Carl Hansen & Søn was founded in 1908 by cabinetmaker Carl Hansen, the grandfather of the company's current owner and CEO, Knud Erik Hansen. Carl Hansen opened a small one-man carpentry workshop in Odense, Denmark, where he produced heavy Victorian furniture for wealthy citizens. He also began manufacturing simpler furniture with a lighter, more modern aesthetic to meet the needs of working-class people living in small apartments.
"Three generations of the company gathered for breakfast: Knud Erik Hansen (CEO since 2002), Holger Hansen (CEO 1947-1962), Carl Hansen (CEO 1908-1947), Ella Hansen (CEO 1962-1990) and Jul Nygaard (CEO 1962-1988)."
Carl Hansen continued to develop the company throughout his life, and the strategy he established when he founded the company 106 years ago continues to guide Carl Hansen & Søn to this day: work with the best contemporary designers to produce quality furniture based on traditional craftsmanship - furniture that rises above cheap and transient alternatives.
In 1934, Carl Hansen passed the baton to his youngest son, Holger Hansen, who some 15 years later discovered Hans J. Wegner's remarkable talent. Holger Hansen suggested that Wegner design a collection of chairs, armchairs, sofas, and dining tables to be produced at the factory and sold directly by Carl Hansen & Søn - a bold initiative that represented a new form of furniture marketing.
In 1949, Wegner was known among connoisseurs in the industry but not yet by ordinary consumers. Trusting Holger Hansen and his employees' production abilities, Wegner agreed to the task. Once Wegner had completed his drawings, he moved in with the Hansen family, borrowing one of the children's bedrooms, and began producing prototypes.
Furniture classics are born
Discussing the relationship between Holger Hansen and Wegner, Knud Erik Hansen explains: "They had a mutual need for each other. The commercial side was driven by a love of wood and the desire to produce quality wooden furniture.
"The Wishbone Chair was the first chair to receive the quality control mark Danish Furnituremakers Control".
Both were excellent cabinetmakers, but my father was also a businessman. So they complemented each other, and also had a very strong friendship."
The partnership was a resounding success. Wegner designed at a prodigious rate, Carl Hansen & Søn launched extensive advertising campaigns, and the new furniture sold quickly. Wegner's virtuosity also began to attract international attention.
From 1949 onwards, Wegner designed numerous pieces specifically for Carl Hansen & Søn. Today, many of the chairs enjoy iconic status. One of these is the 1950 Wishbone Chair, often referred to as 'the world's best wooden chair' and Wegner's most sold chair to date.
"The sculptural Shell Chair, designed by Wegner in 1963"
"Wing Chair designed by Wegner in 1960."
In 1963, Wegner developed a shell chair using form-pressed veneer, building on preliminary studies he had done in 1948 for a competition held by the Museum of Modern Art in New York. In this area, he was a contemporary of fellow pioneer Charles Eames. Wegner later commented that these veneer structures offered so many opportunities that he had to make a choice between working with them or with solid wood - and he chose the latter. In 1997, Carl Hansen & Søn relaunched the Shell Chair, which in just a few years became one of the company's best-selling chairs.
Third generation at the helm
Representing the third generation of the family business, Knud Erik Hansen took over with energy and enthusiasm in 2002. His vision of efficient production based on quality craftsmanship and a modern sales and distribution network quickly transformed Carl Hansen & Søn into an international brand. In recent years, the company's product range has been extended to include other furniture icons, in part due to the acquisition of Rud. Rasmussen, Denmark's oldest active joinery. Yet the company's core products continue to be Wegner's timeless furniture designs.
Carl Hansen & Søn's partnership with Hans J. Wegner's Studio continues to this day. At the time of his death, Wegner left behind 3,500 drawings of furniture items that had never been produced.
"The CH88 Chair embodies the essence of what Wegner wanted all his furniture to express. For him, good design was not a style, but rather a method for solving functional problems with style."
The Wegner family has given Carl Hansen & Søn permission to put some of these into production.
Today, the power of Wegner's furniture is undiminished, notes Knud Erik Hansen, who regularly interacts with customers around the world. "I grew up with Wegner's furniture and have run around the workshop all my life.
Wegner's understanding of the possibilities inherent in shaping wood is unsurpassed. All the furniture he created emanates something solid, simple and organic. And the more you understand what lies behind it, the more you respect it. All the pieces pass through a hundred hands, and there is a 100 percent focus on making them perfect. Just like in 1908, when it all began."
Hans J. Wegner: on Design, by Jens Bernsen, Dansk Design Center, 1994.
Wegner: bare een god stol, by Christian Holmsted Olesen, 2014.
"The new SP34 Hotel in Copenhagen located on Sankt Peders Stræde 34 - hence the name SP34."
"No Name," declares the working title of the initial neon sign that architect Morten Hedegaard had made a year ago, just after being commissioned to create a completely new hotel in central Copenhagen. "No Name" sums up a basic idea Morten Hedegaard shares with his clients, Søren and Mette Brøchner-Mortensen: to allow the hotel's identity to evolve naturally by creating or finding furniture and décor rich with character and stories - items that cannot be found elsewhere.
"We don't want to be a hotel people choose because of correct but predictable décor that relies on well-known icons. We want to be chosen for our great atmosphere, and because people sense that the interior design has something special to say
"Lobby area of SP34 furnished with Wegner's CH88 Chair."
We hope to arouse our guests' curiosity so they want to find out where the various elements - lamps, chairs, tables, and so on - come from," explains Morten Hedegaard, whose task was to refurbish the original Hotel Fox on Jarmers Plads, which the Brøchner Hotels Group has operated since 2007, and integrate it with the recently acquired neighboring building in Sankt Peders Stræde 34 - hence the name, SP34. The facades of the original Hotel Fox and the new building have been painted different shades, respecting the buildings' individual characters and ensuring the hotel does not dominate the street.
SP34 is a 4+ star hotel with 118 rooms ranging from 18 to 50 square meters, three penthouse suites, two restaurants, conference facilities on two floors for up to 100 participants, and a cinema that seats up to 25.
"The curved backrest provides the perfect resting place and the chair itself permits movement. This made the CH88 Chair an obvious choice for the conference."
The story behind the new hotel had to be crafted from scratch - as did, for the most part, the hotel itself. Both buildings were stripped to the core and rebuilt, with the project's apt working title: "Pure, raw and honest." Whenever the demolition process uncovered an original element - a beautiful wall, floor or structure - it was preserved and incorporated into the final interior design.
With the ambition of having people in the neighborhood enjoy and feel a sense of connection to the new hotel, one of the goals was to draw the street into the buildings' interiors. To that end, most of the walls on the ground floor facing the street have been removed, offering an unobstructed view of the lobby and two restaurants. Guests check in at the bar, which offers a view of the hams and cheeses hanging from the ceiling.
"The Cuba Chair by Morten Gøttler."
"Our idea for the lobby was to create a space where people walk in and ask themselves, 'Hasn't this always been here?' All the elements are different, have their own lives, and are intended to arouse interest. We have designed our own sofa and a hippie bench. In the hotel basement, we found a 1950s chair by an unknown designer that we put into production and now have in the rooms. Light fixtures with antique Swedish glass shades, mirrors with leather frames, and beautiful oak coat hangers are among the decorative accents that we had made to order - and these can all be purchased at the hotel."
"In the bar and reception area guests are encouraged to hang out in the custom made sofa and Wegner's bar stool, CH56, designed in 1985."
"The Colonial Chair, designed by Ole Wanscher in 1949, is used for the lounge area of the hotel."
An exceptional hotel requires exceptional partners, and Morten Hedegaard notes that relationships with suppliers have been a cornerstone of the entire project: "To achieve the soul and spirit we wanted in the hotel, there was no sense in working with manufacturers who simply deliver a product. The suppliers had to be on the same page as us, fully appreciate the project, and present ideas we hadn't thought of. We provided the framework, but to get the best result, many creative minds had to fill in the details. For example, Carl Hansen & Søn showed us a number of largely unknown chairs. The Heritage Chair, designed by Frits Henningsen, the Colonial Chair, designed by Ole Wanscher, Wegner's barstool, and the Cuba Chair by Morten Gøttler are used in the lobby and the rooms."
"The Heritage Chairs in the lobby create a relaxing and intimate sphere. Designed by Frits Henningsen in 1930 and reintroduced by Carl Hansen & Søn in 2013."
"Carl Hansen & Søn knew we also needed a conference chair and showed us a picture of CH88 early in the project," recalls Morten Hedegaard. "The chair was designed in 1955 and presented at a Swedish exhibition. It was never put into production, and has since only existed as drawings in Hans J. Wegner's archives. This story is perfect for our hotel, as is the chair."
"I have sat in many lovely conference rooms, but always in the same type of chair, with a mediocre frame and upholstered backrest," Hedegaard continues. "The justification is, of course, the need to save money on a chair that is required in such large numbers. But we chose to go in the opposite direction.
"We wanted our conference chair to have such an attractive appearance and finish that people would be drawn to look at it and touch it, Morten Hedegaard, main architect of SP34, explains when asked about the choice of CH88 Chairs for the conference"
We wanted our conference chair to have such an attractive appearance and finish that people would be drawn to look at it and touch it. CH88 has this appeal, and is also extremely comfortable. Like Wegner's other chairs, it permits movement - which is a big advantage when you have to sit for several hours. The curved backrest provides the perfect resting place. CH88 is an experience in itself, and makes conferences at SP34 something special. It can actually be much more than a conference chair, so we put a few of them in the lobby as well."
"CH88 Chairs in one of the smaller, adjacent conference rooms of the hotel."
"The new CH88 Chair by Wegner, designed in 1955."
"A chair is a very difficult object. Anyone who has tried to make one knows this. There are endless possibilities and problems - the chair must be lightweight, it must be strong, it must be comfortable. It is almost easier to build a skyscraper than a good chair."
This quote from Mies van der Rohe, one of the greatest pioneers of modern architecture, echoes Hans J. Wegner's sentiments. Wegner also considered creating the perfect chair to be a tremendous challenge - one that became the focal point of his work.
Abounding with ideas, Wegner designed approximately 500 chairs in his lifetime, each one of them showcasing his unique understanding of the materials, construction and applications.
While he created most of his chairs entirely of wood, he also explored and was skilled in working with other materials.
Wegner's chairs vary widely in their stylistic expressions and range from expensive works of furniture art to simpler pieces with fewer handcrafted details. Wegner was comfortable working with the entire spectrum, and strived to accommodate customers for whom price was an important parameter. "I have always wanted to make furniture that ordinary people could afford to buy, but of unusually high quality," Wegner said.
"Wegner always followed one philosophy: if his furniture pieces were as true and natural as possible, they would automatically be beautiful."
In the mid-50s, Wegner developed a lightweight, steel and wood chair that could be produced at a reasonable price. Exhibiting alongside other top designers such as Alvar Aalto, Wegner presented three different prototypes of the chair at the international H55 Exhibition in Helsingborg, Sweden, organized by the Swedish Design Association, Föreningen Svensk Form. Carl Hansen & Søn has now put one of these prototypes into production - and has high expectations for the revived design.
"Catalog from the H55 Exhibition in Helsingborg, Sweden."
"In 1955 Wegner presented three different prototypes of the chair at the international H55 Exhibition in Helsingborg, Sweden."
"The CH88 is a classic Wegner design with a great presence," says Knud Erik Hansen, CEO of Carl Hansen & Søn. "The chair demonstrates Wegner's design talent, his craftsmanship, and his ability to combine different materials. It's exciting to launch a chair that offers so many different options. The most upscale version features stainless steel legs and a leather-upholstered seat. But if you choose the version with a black painted frame and beech seat, it costs EUR 315 - giving even young people the opportunity to own their first Wegner."
"The endless possibilities of mixing materials and finishes allows for a versatile use of the chair."
Although the CH88 existed as a prototype, there were no complete drawings of the chair, so Carl Hansen & Søn had to scan the prototype to determine its dimensions and proportions before production could begin. As with his other chairs, Wegner was intently focused on seating comfort when he developed the CH88, and ensured that the distance between the seat and backrest provided optimal back support, with the design facilitating movement while seated. The steam-bent backrest (available in oak or beech) curves slightly at the ends, providing a natural resting place for the arms. The chair also clearly distinguishes between the supporting and supported elements - a fundamental principle in Wegner's work.
"There were no complete drawings of the chair, so Carl Hansen & Søn had to scan the prototype to determine its dimensions and proportions."
Wegner himself offered this description of the importance of the backrest design: "Many of my backrests are twisted like a propeller because you first need the surface to face one way for the back, and then the other way for the arms. You simply cannot draw such curves. You have to make them by hand and see them."
Carl Hansen & Søn is always careful to stay true to Wegner's original details and design. A chair designed almost 60 years ago, however, had to be updated: the seat, armrests and backrest have been raised slightly to offer today's taller consumers the ergonomic experience Wegner intended.
"The steam-bent backrest curves slightly at the ends, providing a natural resting place for the arms."
"You simply cannot draw such curves. You have to make them by hand and see them."
Its light, precise and organic expression makes the versatile CH88 equally at home in private residences, restaurants, cafés and hotels. To add to the design's flexibility, Carl Hansen & Søn slightly modified the seat shape to allow the chairs to be stacked in sets of four, making the CH88 ideal for conference rooms as well.
"I have always wanted to make furniture that ordinary people could afford to buy, but of unusually high quality," Wegner.
"The design of the seat allows the chairs to be stacked in sets of four, making the CH88 ideal for conference rooms as well."
The CH88 embodies the essence of what Wegner wanted all his furniture to express. For him, good design was not a style, but rather a method for solving functional problemswithstyle. He always followed one philosophy: if his furniture pieces were as true and natural as possible, they would automatically be beautiful.
The CH88 is right on target.
John Pawson Interview
In early 2016, the London Design Museum is due to open its new location, designed by John Pawson, in the Kensington neighborhood in west London. The British designer is transforming a 1960s building into a meticulously planned, well-proportioned and ultra-simple space to create a new setting for the museum.
From the beginning of his career, John Pawson's clients have respected his unique ability to work holistically. As a general rule, he is therefore usually asked to design or select furnishings for the interior, in addition to designing the external framework.
One of Pawson's first projects in the early 80s was to renovate a London apartment, and the images caused a sensation at the time.
"London Design Museum. Photo by Chris Masson"
In his book, "John Pawson Works," Deyan Sudjic - architecture critic, author, and director of the London Design Museum - describes his experience of the apartment: "It was every bit as extraordinary as The World of Interiors pictures had suggested.
Its very emptiness made you acutely aware of how many different shades of white there can be, and all the nuances and implications of the precise positioning of a door in a wall."
Understated expression has been John Pawson's trademark from his earliest projects and continues to characterize his work. His interiors feature an all-pervasive simplicity, harmonious proportions, and exquisite detail. Naturally, a person who works with extreme simplicity and architectural precision, as Pawson does,
"The Van Royen apartment, one of Pawson's first projects. London in the early 1980s."
is also uncompromising in his choice of furniture. Pawson elaborates on his views in the interview that follows:
eMAG:In your creative process and planning, do the architecture and the interior elements - lighting, furniture, etc. - go hand in hand, or are these elements decided after you have created the spaces?
JP: For me, it's all architecture. Whether it's a wall or a table, every component of a space contributes to or detracts from the quality of wholeness - through its form, proportions, surfaces and junctions, in the space it creates around itself and the patterns of use it implies. For this reason, it makes sense to start thinking about the furniture from the very beginning of the design process.
"John Pawson. Photo by Orla Connolly"
eMAG:Is it possible to define the overall approach you use when selecting furniture for an interior project?
JP: The writer Bruce Chatwin described how the space contained by a room can feel limitless, no matter how small the room is, providing it allows your eye to travel freely. This condition of seamlessness is something I am always trying to achieve. A jarring profile to the arm of a chair is just one of many things that can stop the eye. You have to consider and control everything, but that is not the same as a literal Gesamtkunstwerk, where you remove the possibility of dissonance by designing every element. Over the years I have found myself returning repeatedly to a tightly edited group of furniture pieces that share a quality of visual ease.
"Apartment, as described by Bruce Chatwin. Photo by François Halard "
eMAG:What are the most important qualities you seek in the furniture you choose for your projects?
JP: Of course you want something that works. A chair that is uncomfortable to sit in or too heavy to move has clearly failed; it is, as Donald Judd put it, ridiculous. Functional clarity and simplicity of form are important, but the pieces I like the most also have an emotional dimension.
"View from the John Pawson - Plain Space Exhibition at The Design Museum, London, 2010. Photo by Gilbert McCarragher."
eMAG:We see similarities in your architectural work and the work of Hans J. Wegner - the extensive use of natural materials, quality craftsmanship, no unnecessary details and decoration. Instead he sought - as do you - to integrate form and function. What are your thoughts on this design philosophy?
JP: One of the qualities I admire about Wegner's work is that it is so pared down. I don't like things that look over-designed. A huge amount of thought goes into making things simple. The key can lie in the smallest increments of change, rather than a grand transformational vision. It's all about the exactness of proportion, refinements of detail, the quality of the craftsmanship and the quiet richness of natural materials.
"Picture from Wakaba Restaurant in London, designed by John Pawson. For this project, Pawson chose his favourite chair, the Wishbone Chair by Hans J. Wegner "
eMAG:You became familiar with Wegner's work many years ago. What were your initial thoughts on his designs?
JP: I remember the first time I saw the Wishbone Chair. I was struck by how light and strong it was, by the lyrical clarity of its lines, and how everyone looked good sitting in it. It's still my favorite chair - I have them at home and in my office.
"Baron House in Skåne, Sweden by John Pawson 2003-2005. Furnished with the Wishbone Chair by Hans J. Wegner. Photo by Orla Connolly and Jens Weber "
eMAG:You have used Wegner's furniture in settings like the Novy Djur monastery in Bohemia and the Cathay Pacific Lounge in the Hong Kong Chek Lap Kok Airport. Can you tell us how Wegner´s designs contributed to these specific projects?
JP: When we were looking for furniture for the monastery in Bohemia, the requirements were quite specific. It was important that the pieces we chose would sit quietly in the architectural spaces I had designed and would meet the functional needs of the community, but they also had to be consistent with the Cistercian values of modesty, simplicity and appropriateness.
"The CH44 Lounge Chair designed by Hans J. Wegner in 1965"
For the Cathay Pacific lounges in Hong Kong airport, the point was to create a place that people felt they could inhabit, rather than simply pass through. I wanted to move away from the types of furniture that are typically used for these sorts of spaces and choose beautiful and refined pieces that also had a domestic quality - that would help people feel at home.
eMAG:Do you believe in the phenomenon of timeless design - the notion that certain pieces of furniture have the qualities to continuously survive fashion trends?
JP: I think you only have to look at a Georgian three-pronged silver fork or a seventeenth century Japanese Raku tea bowl - or, indeed, a Wishbone Chair - to trust in the notion of timeless design.
John Pawson Profile
As a child growing up in Yorkshire in the UK, John Pawson was already conscious of architecture's deep impact on well- being, and recalls the sense of comfort he felt as he played among the 1000- year- old Cistercian ruins of Fountains and Rievaulx Abbeys.
Later, as a young man exploring the world, Pawson could instinctively identify the architectural universes that inspired him. Yet he did not consider studying architecture until Shiro Kuramata, one of Japan's most influential 20th century designers, whom Pawson met while living in Japan in the early 70s, encouraged him to do so. Pawson's experiences in Japan, particularly of the Zen Buddhist temples such as Eiheiji, affected him deeply, both aesthetically and spiritually.
"John Pawson. Photo by Orla Connolly "
His architecture, known for its simplicity, serenity and harmony, is a testament to this formative period. Upon returning to the UK, Pawson followed Kuramata's advice, enrolling at the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London in 1979 for several years before concentrating on his growing scope of architectural work.
Pawson's projects caused a sensation when they found their way into architecture and interior design magazines in the early 80s. His totally simple, nearly bare interiors were radically innovative, falling outside any prevailing categories. Then as now, he could not be labeled a minimalist: the category does not encompass the sensitivity and sense of texture key to his architectural expression.
While the sublime purity and simplicity he encountered in Japan played a major role in his oeuvre, Pawson also cites other significant influences. "I have always admired Hans J. Wegner, and as a young man purchased several of his furniture pieces, including the Wishbone Chair. Wegner's ability to proportion his furniture and add details, texture and a quality finish is unsurpassed," notes Pawson, who has incorporated Wegner's designs into many projects.
Pawson's first clients came from the London art scene. In the early 80s, his interior design of London's leading gallery, owned by Leslie Waddington, became the first of many gallery projects. The assignments soon grew to include villas, apartments, restaurants and stores.
"Waddington Gallery, London"
Calvin Klein Flagship and Office
Calvin Klein had been selling his clothing in other people's shops, and in the early 90s decided to establish his own flagship store and head office in a former bank at the corner of Madison Avenue and 60th street in Manhattan. Klein had come across Pawson's work in architecture magazines and immediately saw in Pawson a perfect match for his simple, precise and sophisticated collections. Pawson delivered on the expectations, transforming the neoclassic building on Madison Avenue into a modern fashion house with bright, dramatically varied yet beautifully proportioned rooms with natural materials and a relaxed yet exclusive atmosphere.
"Calvin Klein flagship store, New York."
"Novy Dvur monastery in Bohemia in the Czech Republic. John Pawson 1999. Photo by Stefan Dold"
The store opened in 1995 to immediate international acclaim, earning the status of an architectural landmark among Manhattan's prestigious fashion houses.
Bohemia's Novy Dvur Monastery
In 1999, Pawson was asked to work on an unusual project: the new, modern Novy Dvur monastery in Bohemia in the Czech Republic. The monks had seen Pawson's projects in books and found in his work the tone, spirituality and expression they sought for their new monastery.
As part of the complex undertaking, Pawson restored the original Baroque main building, harmoniously integrating it with new buildings, including a chapel, guesthouse, agricultural buildings and visitor facilities - and outfitting several of the spaces with Wegner's Wishbone Chair.
"The Scriptorium of the Novy Dvur Monastery furnished with Wegner's Wishbone Chair."
"When we were looking for furniture for the monastery, the requirements were quite specific," Pawson explains. "It was important that the pieces we chose would sit quietly in the architectural spaces I had designed and would meet the functional needs of the community, but they also had to be consistent with the Cistercian values of modesty, simplicity and appropriateness."
"CH53 Stools in the refectory of the Novy Dvur Monastery"
Hong Kong's Chek Lap Kok Airport Lounge
Cathay Pacific, the Hong Kong-based airline, wished to create the ultimate lounges for their business and first-class passengers in Hong Kong's Chek Lap Kok Airport, designed by Norman Foster Architects and opened in 1998. Pawson was chosen to design a space that would complement and interact with the architecturally striking airport while making its own compelling statement.
Envisioning a building within a building, Pawson created a structure with two terrace levels - framed by Foster's expansive, elegant steel roof - from which guests could enjoy the bustle of the airport while also being shielded from it.The space is defined by light, air and water: sunlight beams down and is reflected
"Passengers making them selves at home in Wegner's Wishbone Chair. Hong Kong's Chek Lap Kok Airport Lounge. Photo by Nacasa and Partners"
in a pool running the length of The Wing. The materials - stone, glass and steel - match the rest of the airport, while wooden furnishings add warmth and texture. Oak Wishbone Chairs furnish the partitioned individual guest spaces, while the library offers a more private interior enclosed in frosted glass and furnished with another Danish furniture icon, Kaare Klint's 1914 Faaborg Chair, produced by Rud Rasmussens Snedkerier.
"For the Cathay Pacific lounges in Hong Kong airport, the point was to create a place that people felt they could inhabit, rather than simply pass through," explains Pawson. "I wanted to move away from the types of furniture that are typically used for these sorts of spaces and choose beautiful and refined pieces that also had a domestic quality - that would help people feel at home"
"Hotel Puerta América, Madrid. Photo by Rafael Vargas"
A visionary from the outset
Pawson is, no doubt, an unusual designer. Few designers and architects have discovered their core aesthetic expression so early in their careers, and few have been able to uncompromisingly maintain that expression - as Pawson has done - across a wide variety of projects for very different clients.
With his firm principles, Pawson represents a lifestyle that trims away everything non-essential - a philosophy that extends to his restrained use of resources, which he has championed since long before the practice became commonplace.
Watch the craftsmanship that goes into making the Wishbone Chair in the video below:
The two quotations relating to the Cathay Pacific lounges and Novy Dvur monastery are extracts from an interview with John Pawson,'For me, it's all architecture,'also featured in this magazine.
In addition to great food and drink, a top restaurant should offer an interior that connects with our senses. And together with the lighting, the chairs we sit in are especially important for our overall experience.
Carl Hansen & Søn's furniture range contains a number of beautiful and diverse chairs that offer excellent seating comfort, making them ideally suited to the many restaurants around the world that use them. A selection of these fine-dining establishments is featured here.
"Bouli Bar, San Francisco, with Wegner's CH33 Chair. Photo by Mariko Reed"
South Passageway, Ferry Building Marketplace, San Francisco, USA
Design Architect: Kallos Turin
Bouli Bar attracted immediate attention and a diverse clientele when it opened its doors less than a year ago. Frequented by tourists, businesspeople and locals alike, the restaurant boasts an interior by Abigail Turin of Kallos Turin, who gave it an industrial feel with a polished concrete floor and elegant details, among other elements.
The casual, simple, white-walled interior features exposed pipes that are set against a black ceiling and hold hanging black pendants of various shapes. The restaurant's furnishings further enhance its down-to-earth atmosphere: several-meter-long tables in light brown wood and Hans J. Wegner's CH33 dining chairs - black-painted, with black leather seats - beautifully complement the black ceiling. The CH33 is characterized by oblique legs that lend the chair's frame an elegant, conical shape. Up to 50 diners at a time can relax in the comfortable design classics as they enjoy Bouli Bar's excellent pizzas or various salads inspired by Eastern Mediterranean cuisine.
"The National Art Center, Tokyo, featuring the Wishbone Chair by Hans J. Wegner"
The National Art Center, Tokyo
Roppongi, Tokyo, Japan
Architect: Kisho Kurokawa
Tokyo's large modern art institution, The National Art Center, Tokyo, designed by architect Kisho Kurokawa, was built in 2007. Housing a collection focused on 20th-century art, the Center is furnished exclusively with Danish design. Carl Hansen & Søn furniture are found throughout the building, including in the foyer, the library, the hall and the Salon de Thé Rond - the Center's spectacular café.
The Salon de Thé Rondis perched atop a large inverted cone structure located in the giant hall, which in turn is surrounded by the building's undulating glass facade. The café is open to the hall, allowing diners to look out into the sprawling space as they enjoy sandwiches, tea, coffee, or a glass of wine.
There is room for up to 82 guests at the square tables situated along the cone's periphery. The café is devoid of all ornament and decoration - with the notable exception of its oak Wishbone Chairs, whose organic form provides a beautiful contrast to the sparse, minimalist space.
Bistro Refter, Belgium, has chosen Wegner's Elbow Chair to accompany the dining experience"
Molenmeers 2, Bruges, Belgium
At Bistro Refter, guests enjoy high-quality, no-nonsense food as they observe the busy chefs in the semi-open kitchen. The popular bistro was designed by Brussels-based noAarchitecten, who created a modern, simple and intimate interior. Polished, dark stone floors match a number of other black elements, including the ceiling, sculptural light fixtures, square tables and countertops.
As a contrast to the black,noAarchitecten chose Hans J. Wegner's CH20 chair in oak, white oil with a cognac leather seat. Wegner designed his Elbow Chair, as it is also known, in 1956 - but it was not until 2005 that it was put into production, by Carl Hansen & Søn. The elegant design offers excellent seating comfort, with the beautifully curved backrest providing support for the arms and back. Bistro Refter's high-backed, fixed benches are also upholstered in the same cognac leather, all in harmony with the hand painted ceramic wall panels.
"Restaurant Kadeau in Copenhagen with Wegner's CH33 Chair. Photo by Marie Louise Munkegaard"
Interior designers: Ole Rask, Trine Schneider
The restaurant Kadeau København/ Copenhagen arose out of a great love for the Danish island of Bornholm, where the restaurant's three founders grew up together. Kadeau opened its Copenhagen location in 2011 to instant acclaim, earning its first Michelin star in 2013.
The restaurant serves food made almost exclusively from Bornholm ingredients, and the ingredients of its interior design are intended to be consistent with the high-quality food - and to reflect Bornholm's distinct, organic aesthetic.
The large Douglas fir bookshelf and granite kitchen counter come from Bornholm; the glasses and ceramic items, too, were created by Bornholm craftsmen. The designers were looking for a beautiful, classic, and comfortable chair to complement the custom-made, black-stained oak round tables - and chose Hans J. Wegner's CH33 in light oak with a natural-colored leather seat to complete the restaurant's inviting, nature-inspired atmosphere.
"Restaurant at Son Brull Boutique Hotel, Majorca, with Wegner's Wishbone Chair".
Restaurant at Son Brull Boutique Hotel
Carretera Palma-Pollença, Majorca
Interior designer:Ignacio Forteza
At the foot of a mountain in northeast Majorca, surrounded by almond and olive groves, stands a rare gem of a hotel. The Son Brull Boutique Hotel occupies a large old farmhouse that, following extensive but gentle restoration, appears in its original rustic beauty.
The hotel restaurant, also rustic and highly refined, is characterized by hard surfaces: the walls are made either of local stone or are smooth and painted white; the floor is polished slate; and the windows and doors are framed with sandstone.
Diners are seated at square tables with chalk-white tablecloths in oak Wishbone Chairs, whose organic form and wooden structure create an alluring contrast to the room's hard surfaces. Together with elegant, stage-style lighting, the iconic chairs define the interior's softer side.