Carl Hansen & Søn: 110 Years of History
Celebrating 110 years of iconic furniture and Danish Design, Carl Hansen & Søn is a leading manufacturer of masterpieces created by the likes of Hans J. Wegner, Arne Jacobsen, Kaare Klint and Børge Mogensen. As it all started in a small workshop in 1908, here are 13 important moments in the history of Carl Hansen & Søn.
1908: A Company is Born
The Carl Hansen & Søn story begins on October 28th, 1908. In Odense, on the Danish island of Funen, Carl Hansen founds his eponymous company. A trained cabinetmaker, he produces bespoke furniture in the heavy, Victorian style of the era. As all furniture is crafted by hand in a small workshop the size of a two-room apartment, the foundation for Carl Hansen is quality, craftsmanship and tradition.
1915: The First Expansion
Carl Hansen expands his company as a result of his success. Instead of the small workshop, he opens a factory that allows for both modern machinery and journeymen. The new facilities make it possible to produce small series of the most popular pieces and the combination of handmade craftsmanship and rational series production becomes the hallmark of this heritage company.
1934: A New Generation Pt. I
The Great Depression of the 1930s means that furniture sales are dwindling all over the world. Carl Hansen passes the baton to his youngest son, Holger Hansen, aged 23. What Holger Hansen lacks in age he makes up for in enthusiasm and innovative spirit and with his business savvy approach, Carl Hansen & Søn stays in business throughout the challenging decades of the 1930s and 1940s. And in 1949, he meets a young man called Hans J. Wegner…
1949: Hans J. Wegner: The Iconic Collaboration
Holger Hansen meets the young architect Hans J. Wegner and invites him to Odense to explore a collaboration. Wegner stays for three weeks and during those 21 days, he designs four iconic chairs especially for Carl Hansen & Søn: the CH22, CH23, CH24 and CH25. Now known as the First Masterpieces, they all embody different sculptural expressions of Wegner’s unmistakable skill with wood and his deep understanding of the relationship between form and function. As they represent a unique and new aesthetic vision of furniture, they provided a new and modern direction in the Carl Hansen & Søn history.
1950: The First Masterpieces
The First Masterpieces are all put in production and the CH24, the icon known as the Wishbone Chair, perfectly represents Wegner’s radically different approach to design. The top rails and arms are combined into a single piece and the characteristic and comfortable Y-shaped back, reminiscent of a wishbone, supports the steam-bent top. The chair merges comfort and stability with its distinctive, beautiful form and requires more than 100 operations to manufacture—most carried out by hand. As it has been in continuous production since 1950, it captures the essence and heritage of modern Danish Design and is a true Wegner icon.
1958: 50 Years in the Making
Carl Hansen & Søn celebrates its 50th anniversary. The company has never been in better condition and employs more than 50 journeymen, placing the company in the premier league of Danish furniture manufacturers. With the production of the increasingly popular designs by Hans J. Wegner, sales are high and a large share of the furniture is exported—a fact that highlights the global recognition and importance of the design movement known as Danish Modern.
1962: A Remarkable Woman
Carl Hansen & Søn’s golden age in the 1950s comes to an abrupt end with the premature death of Holger Hansen. But in the innovative spirit of her deceased husband, Ella Hansen takes the reins of the company in order to keep it in the family. Without any previous experience, Ella Hansen rises to the occasion and becomes a businesswoman and working mom at a time when most women never entered the job market. At home she discusses the business operations with her two young sons, Jørgen Gerner Hansen and Knud Erik Hansen and primes them to continue the heritage and legacy of the family business.
1963: A New Kind of Chair
Hans J. Wegner designs the Shell Chair for the annual Furniture Guild Exhibition in Copenhagen using form-pressed veneer. The chair marks a new aesthetic for Hans J. Wegner, more in the line of his contemporary and fellow pioneers Charles and Ray Eames, and his ambition to challenge existing notions of good design. While the chair has proven a bestseller since its reintroduction in the late 1990s, the general public was reluctant to accept the bold and different design in its day.
2002: A New Generation Pt. II
Replacing his older brother Jørgen Gerner Hansen, Knud Erik Hansen—the youngest son of Ella and Holger Hansen—is the new CEO. Trained in the shipping industry and with great international ambitions, Knud Erik Hansen leads Carl Hansen & Søn into a new era. The production moves to new, modern and bigger facilities outside Odense, and Carl Hansen & Søn soon expands its global sales. Following Knud Erik Hansen’s vision, other famed masters of Danish Modern are continuously added to the offering and with this new era, names like Kaare Klint, Ole Wanscher, Arne Jacobsen and Mogens Koch have continuously joined the ranks of Hans J. Wegner to form a coherent collection of modern Danish Design at Carl Hansen & Søn.
2013: First Flagship
Carl Hansen & Søn opens its first flagship store at Bredgade 21 in Copenhagen. It marks a renewed focus on Danish and Scandinavian design classics in Denmark, as in the rest of the world. As the furniture manufactured by Carl Hansen & Søn has become collectible across the globe, flagship stores and showrooms start to open in metropoles like New York, San Francisco, Tokyo, Osaka, London, Milan, Stockholm and Oslo, cementing the global focus of the company.
2014: 100 Years of Wegner
On April 2nd, 2014, Carl Hansen & Søn celebrates the 100th birthday of Hans J. Wegner with two special launches. During the furniture exhibition Salone del Mobile in Milan, the CH88 chair, originally designed by Wegner in 1955 but never put in production, is launched for the first time. Furthermore, to highlight Wegner’s international importance, fashion designer Paul Smith celebrates the centenary with a limited collection of selected Wegner furniture covered in Paul Smith’s iconic stripes.
2014: The Wegner Imprint
In celebration of Hans J. Wegner’s centenary, Carl Hansen & Søn introduces a new logo. As the logo was designed by Wegner in 1950 and was part of the company’s visual identity until the mid-1980s, the relaunch of this graphic design emphasizes Wegner’s vast importance in the success of Carl Hansen & Søn.
2018: A Bright Future
In 2018, Carl Hansen & Søn is one of the leading manufacturers of contemporary Danish Design in the world. Danish designers like Bodil Kjær, Børge Mogensen and the new American creator Brad Ascalon are added to the portfolio. As 2018 marks the 110th anniversary of Carl Hansen & Søn, the DNA of the company reflects the vast history created since 1908 and embraces craftsmanship, tradition, heritage and innovation. As such, the goal is as relevant as ever: to collect and present all of the best Danish design under one roof.
Discover more stories
Considered one of the most famous symbols of Danish furniture design, the CH24 is, of course, also known as the Wishbone Chair. Globally admired, its elegant, curved frame is often spotted in the world’s best restaurants and hotels as well as homes all over the world.
To celebrate the foundations and legacy of Danish Modern, Carl Hansen & Søn brings to life the story of its founding father, Kaare Klint.
In his highly productive career, Hans J. Wegner, the world-famous furniture designer, created some of the world’s best chairs.
The remarkable legacy of four chair designs by Hans J. Wegner has shaped the Carl Hansen & Søn philosophy for over 65 years and is a celebration of collaboration and craftsmanship.
When you choose a product from Carl Hansen & Søn, you get more than just a piece of furniture. You will become part of a long and proud tradition of beautiful and distinctive craftsmanship where nothing is left to chance. We are the world’s largest manufacturer of furniture designed by Hans J. Wegner, and we also manufacture furniture created by renowned furniture designers such as Arne Jacobsen, Børge Mogensen, Ole Wanscher, Kaare Klint, Poul Kjærholm, Bodil Kjær, and Tadao Ando. Carl Hansen & Søn represents more than 100 years of Danish design history, and our furniture is sold worldwide.