With his love of natural materials and his deep understanding of the need for furniture to be functional as well as beautiful, Hans J. Wegner (1914–) made mid-century Danish design popular on an international scale. He began his career as a cabinetmaker in 1931 and subsequently entered the Copenhagen School of Arts & Crafts. After receiving his architectural degree in 1938, he worked as a designer in Arne Jacobsen and Erik Møller’s architectural office before establishing his own office in 1943.
With more than 500 different chair designs Wegner is the most prolific Danish designer to date. His international breakthrough and greatest sales success came in 1949 when he designed the Round chair. The American magazine Interiors featured the chair on the cover and referred to it as “the world’s most beautiful chair”. The chair rose to stardom when used in the televised presidential debates between Nixon and Kennedy in 1960 and has since been known simply as “The Chair”.
The real beauty of Wegner’s genius must be seen in context with his collaboration with master cabinetmaker Johannes Hansen. The attitude with which Johannes Hansen accepted the young designer’s ideas was the perfect combination between designer and craftsman. Their collaboration went on for many years, and they presented their work at the Cabinetmaker’s show every year from 1941–1966.
Wegner’s design went on to win worldwide recognition through the 1950’s and 1960’s and his furniture, in particular his chairs, are to be found in the permanent collections of the world’s most prestigious museums.