As we know from last weeks ‘a design opportunity’ in woodwork like many other arts there is some room for variation in the process of making. Even the most elaborately laid out designs and plans are not immune to human error. While chanting the mantra ‘measure twice, cut once’ there is always a possibility that the thought of lunch distracted you and you’re off to the races. It’s almost impossible to undo a cut too short or a slip of the chisel which makes the fine handmade wood furniture available even more impressive and at times outstanding.
Although there is a world of talented individuals and collectives both current and past to explore there have been a few that have stood out so far in all the researching. We will be telling you about some of our favourites and exploring some of what we consider to be their most inspirational work right here!
First up… Hans Wegner – a world famous Danish born furniture designer. I just found out the 2nd April would have been his 101st birthday so it seems even more appropriate to appreciate his work now and his considerable contribution to what is now considered the ‘Danish Modern’ design movement of the 1950’s and 60’s. His career defining ‘The Round One’ chair came to be known as ‘The Chair’ but this was just one of many masterful works, all of which can be considered inspirational. Of the 500+ chairs Wegner developed over his lifetime, at least a 100 have been put into production, some of which are still being produced today by the family run Danish company PP Møbler (His primary workshop from the ’60’s until the end of his career) and Carl Hansen and Son (Wegner’s primary workshop in the ’50’s). ‘The Chair’ was featured on the cover of an American magazine ‘Interiors’ and hailed ‘the most beautiful chair in the world’.
Wegner, a master carpenter first and a designer second, not only made beautiful chairs but also crafted the bare essentials into complete comfort. The perfect mix of design aesthetics, practicality and ergonomics is something to aspire to (both in chair and furniture making) and why Hans J. Wegner is our first pick. Below are some of our favourite chairs – all of which are still in production and available from his original workshops.
A chair is to have no backside, it should be beautiful from all angles
– Hans J. Wegner
Main Image/Bottom left: ‘The Round One‘ aka ‘The Chair‘ 1949 (Main Image pp501/pp503) © Photo: Katja Kejser & Kasper Holst Pedersen – www.pp.dk. ‘The back is carved out of a 5 inch piece of solid wood’ ‘One of the most famous Danish pieces of furniture and arguably Wegner’s most important work, it signifies the international breakthrough of Danish Modern. When John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon met in the first ever televised debate in 1960, they sat in the Round Chair.’
Top right: ‘’The Peacock Chair 1947 (pp550) © Photo: Katja Kejser & Kasper Holst Pedersen – www.pp.dk. ‘Historically anchored in the classic British Windsor Chair…its sweeping back with its extravagantly shaped sticks is the mark of ergonomic aesthetics. The stick’s flat part is located exactly where the shoulder blades rest against the chair’s back’
Middle right: ‘Wishbone Chair’ 1949 (ch24) © Photo: Dining by Hans Wegner – Carl Hansen & Søn – www.carlhansen.com. ‘It takes more than 100 steps to make one – the handwoven seat consists of more than 120 meters of paper cord.’ Designed for Carl Hansen & Son and in continuous production since 1950.
Bottom right: ‘The Chinese Chair’ 1945 (pp56/pp66) © Photo: Katja Kejser & Kasper Holst Pedersen – www.pp.dk. ‘One of his early designs inspired by foreign cultures, inspired by an old Chinese chair he had seen at the Danish Museum of Industrial Arts, Wegner worked on modernising the traditional concept and eventually the Chinese Chair evolved into the Round One.’
Middle bottom: ‘Valet Chair’ 1953 (pp250) © Photo: Jens Mourits Sørensen – www.pp.dk. ‘The idea a result of a long talk with Professor of Architecture Steen Eiler Rasmussen and designer Kay Bojesen about the problems of folding clothes in the most practical manner when it was time for bed… The Danish King Frederik IX ended up ordering a total of ten Valet Chairs.’
A chair is only finished when someone sits in it
– Hans J. Wegner (Carl Hansen & Son)