HANS J. WEGNER
The driving force behind Danish Modern
Danish architect Hans J. Wegner is considered a pioneering furniture designer of the twentieth century
Among Danish furniture designers, Hans J. Wegner (1914-2007) is considered one of the most creative, innovative, and prolific. Often referred to as the master of the chair, Wegner created almost 500 in his lifetime – many of them considered masterpieces. His iconic Wishbone Chair is probably the most well-known and has been in continuous production since 1950.
Wegner was part of the spectacular generation that created what is today referred to as the Golden Age of modern Danish design. “Many foreigners have asked me how we created the Danish style,” Wegner once said. “I’ve answered that it was a continuous process of purification and simplification – to cut down to the simplest possible design of four legs, a seat, and a combined back- and armrest.”
The son of a cobbler, Wegner was born in 1914 in Tønder, a town in southern Denmark. He began his apprenticeship with Danish master cabinetmaker H. F. Stahlberg when he was just 14 years old. Later on, he moved to Copenhagen and attended the School of Arts and Crafts from 1936 to 1938 before setting out as a furniture designer.
In 1938, Wegner was approached by architects and designers Arne Jacobsen and Erik Møller, and started designing furniture for the new Aarhus City Hall. During the same period, Wegner began collaborating with master cabinetmaker Johannes Hansen, who was a driving force in bringing new furniture design to the Danish public at the Copenhagen Cabinetmakers’ Guild Exhibitions.
The core of Wegner’s legacy is his focus on showing the inner soul of furniture pieces through a simple and functional exterior. Wegner’s background as a cabinetmaker gave him a deep understanding of how to integrate exacting joinery techniques with exquisite form. His aesthetic was also based on a deep respect for wood and its characteristics, and a vast curiosity about other natural materials that enabled him to bring an organic, natural softness to formalistic minimalism.
Wegner established his own design studio in 1943 and created a series of lightweight chairs for Carl Hansen & Søn from 1949 until 1968, including the Wishbone Chair, which has been in production at Carl Hansen & Søn ever since.
Wegner is seen as one of the most renowned and creative Danish furniture designers. He received many design awards, including the Lunning Prize in 1951, the Grand Prix of the Milan Triennale in 1951, the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts’ Eckersberg Medal in 1956, Sweden’s Prince Eugen Medal in 1961, the Danish Furniture Prize in 1980, the C. F. Hansen Medal in 1982, and the 8th International Design Award in 1997. He was made an Honorary Royal Designer for industry by the Royal Society of Arts in London in 1959, became an honorary member of the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in 1995, and was awarded an honorary Doctorate by the Royal College of Art in 1997.
Almost all of the world’s major design museums, from the Museum of Modern Art in New York and Designmuseum Danmark in Copenhagen to Die Neue Sammlung in Munich, exhibit his works. Hans J. Wegner died in Denmark in January 2007, aged 92.
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One of Denmark's best-known and most respected architects, Arne Jacobsen has become synonymous with modernism throughout the world. His precise yet expressive aesthetic continues to serve as a source of inspiration for contemporary designers.
Danish professor and architect Bodil Kjær has significantly contributed to the spread of Danish Modern design principles through her travels, knowledge gathering and promotion of the relationship between design and architecture.
Bonderup & Thorup
After graduating from the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts’ School of Architecture in Copenhagen in 1969, Claus Bonderup and Torsten Thorup began a collaboration that led them to join forces on design projects across the globe for more than 20 years.
Brad Ascalon is an American designer born in 1977. He entered the art and design world at a young age. His grandfather, a sculptor and industrial designer, and his father, a renowned artist, encouraged a passion for design, craftsmanship and materials that would last.
Børge Mogensen’s creative process produced long-lasting pieces with humans at the center. He worked primarily with wood and pioneered democratic design, becoming a highly-influential, post-war representative of Danish Modern.
Austrian collaborative, EOOS, were established in 1995 by Martin Bergmann, Gernot Bohmann, and Harald Gründl. The trio study historical roots in a contemporary context and focus on myths, rituals and intuitive expressions, to create original connections.
Frits Henningsen was an uncompromising designer known for his perfectionism and vibrant personality. He gave new expression to traditional designs and viewed quality craftsmanship as essential. Unlike most cabinetmakers, he always designed his own furniture pieces.
Kaare Klint is recognized as the father of modern Danish design and a renowned furniture designer, educator, and visionary. He insisted on clear, logical design, clean lines, the best materials, and superb craftsmanship, as seen in his iconic Safari Chair from 1933.
Larsen & Bender Madsen
Ejner Larsen and Aksel Bender Madsen designed around 300 works, including the Metropolitan Chair. While the chair was their favorite object, they also made other pieces from bedroom suites to bookshelves. The results were always simple and timeless.
Linie Design, a Danish design company, was founded in 1980 and since then has specialized in the development of handmade rugs in elegant designs and of the highest quality materials.
The dream of becoming a designer has lived in Mads Odgård for as long as he can remember, so when the time came, he left his birthplace, the Danish town of Kjellerup, and moved to Copenhagen to work in the creative business.
Architect Mogens Lassen created works rooted in cubist architectural ideals inspired by Le Corbusier. Considered a pioneer of functionalism in Denmark, Lassen’s designs showcased his ability to express ideas through diverse materials.
Born in Copenhagen, and originally trained in shipping, Morten Gøttler became a self-taught designer and architect recognized for his exceptional understanding of wood and strong belief that innovation is the foundation for successful design.
Naja Utzon Popov
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Her desire to explore spaces and experiment with techniques on the edge of what is possible led Nanna Ditzel – one of Danish design’s most distinctive personalities – to become acquainted with the entire design universe.
Ole Wanscher was integral to the aesthetic and functionality of modern Danish design. Having studied under Kaare Klint, he helped shape Danish furniture design as a designer and as an educator when he took over Klint’s professorship at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts.
Poul Kjærholm mixed his strict, modern idiom with superior quality and materials rooted in Danish craftsmanship traditions. Despite his short career as a furniture designer, Kjærholm’s craftsmanship and clear expression resulted in timeless designs with a global influence.
Fabricius & Kastholm
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Danish designer Rikke Frost has always been curious about the combination of different craft traditions and types of material, a fact clearly reflected in her design portfolio where traditional and contemporary design is expressed in sofas, tables, chairs and lamps with an organic idiom.
Strand & Hvass
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Thomas Bo Kastholm
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When you choose a product from Carl Hansen & Søn, you get more than just a piece of furniture. You become part of a proud tradition of distinctive and beautiful craftsmanship, where nothing has been left to chance. Where all furniture is manufactured with a great love for design and the history of the crafting process. 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.