Hans Wegner
Hans Jørgen Wegner, was a successful Danish furniture designer who contributed to the international popularity of mid-century Danish design
Danish design
Danish Design is a term often used to describe a style of functionalistic design and architecture that was developed in mid-20th century. Influenced by the German Bauhaus school, many Danish designers used the new industrial technologies, combined with ideas of simplicity and functionalism to...

. His work belongs to a modernist school with emphasis on functionality. He is probably best known for his chairs.

Early years

Born to cobbler
Shoemaking is the process of making footwear. Originally, shoes were made one at a time by hand. Traditional handicraft shoemaking has now been largely superseded in volume of shoes produced by industrial mass production of footwear, but not necessarily in quality, attention to detail, or...

 Peter M. Wegner in Tønder, in southern Denmark
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

, he worked as a child apprentice to Master cabinetmaker H. F. Stahlberg. He soon discovered he had a feeling for wood as a material and developed an affinity towards the material. The cabinetmakers workshop made all sorts of works in wood, and the young Hans Jørgen Wegner soon got an opportunity to experiment with design. Finishing his apprentiship at 17 he remained in the workshop for another three years before joining the army. After serving in the military he went to technical college and then to the Danish School of Arts and Crafts and the Architectural Academy in Copenhagen
Copenhagen is the capital and largest city of Denmark, with an urban population of 1,199,224 and a metropolitan population of 1,930,260 . With the completion of the transnational Øresund Bridge in 2000, Copenhagen has become the centre of the increasingly integrating Øresund Region...


In Copenhagen he became acquainted with the city's Carpenters' Guild Furniture Exhibits, started in 1927 and having become a laboratory for cooperation between Master Cabinetmakers such as Johannes Hansen, L. Pontoppidan, Niels Vodder, Jacob Kjær
Jacob Kjær
Jacob Kjær was a Danish furniture designer and cabinetmaker.Kjær received training as a cabinetmaker in the workshop of his father who was also a furniture maker. After completing his training in Berlin and Paris, he exhibited works at the Barcelona World Exhibition in 1929...

, A. J. Iversen
A. J. Iversen
Andreas Jeppe Iversen, usually known as A.J. Iversen, was a Danish cabinetmaker and furniture designer...

, Moos and Rudolf Rasmussen; and the best architects of the time, such as Kaare Klint, Vilhelm Lauritzen
Vilhelm Lauritzen
Vilhelm Lauritzen was a leading Danish modernist architect, founder of the still active architectural firm Vilhelm Lauritzen Arkitekter.-Biography:...

, Ole Wanscher
Ole Wanscher
Ole Wanscher was a Danish furniture designer. He was one of the leading figures in the Scandinavian Design movement , at a time when Scandinavian Design achieved worldwide popularity....

 and Mogens Voltelen.

These annual exhibits gave the young cabinetmaker Wegner a first-hand experience of what the combination of workmanship and design could produce. As a student at the Technical College, Wegner was sometimes sent to the Museum of Art & Design to measure furniture. This gave him another introduction into the world of furniture design. Wegner decided to become a designer. His aim was to produce and sell his furniture and therefore, in 1936, he began studies at what is now The Danish Design School, with O. Mølgaard Nielsen as teacher.

Even his earliest objects, like an armchair with sloping armrests like relaxed wrists (a 1937 design for an exhibit at the Museum of Decorative Arts), exhibited Wegner's approach of "stripping the old chairs of their outer style and letting them appear in their pure construction."

After two years Wegner was employed in Århus, first at architects Erik Møller
Erik Møller
Svend Erik Møller was a Danish architect.Møller used to work with the famous Danish architect and designer Arne Jacobsen. Together they won the competition to build the new City Hall in Aarhus, which was built from 1938 to 1942. At the same time they built another town hall in Søllerød. From 1955...

 and Flemming Lassen
Flemming Lassen
Flemming Lassen was a Modernist Danish architect and designer, working within the idiom of the International Style. Among his most notable buildings are libraries and cultural centres. He was the brother of Mogens Lassen, also an architect.-Early life:Flemming Lassen was born on 23 February 1901...

 and then in 1940 at the studio architects Arne Jacobsen and Erik Møller had established together to design and build Århus City Hall. Wegner's task was to design the furniture for the City Hall.

Mid years

Wegner worked for some time for Arne Jacobsen
Arne Jacobsen
Arne Emil Jacobsen, usually known as Arne Jacobsen, was a Danish architect and designer. He is remembered for contributing so much to architectural Functionalism as well as for the worldwide success he enjoyed with simple but effective chair designs.-Early life and education:Arne Jacobsen was born...

, a successful Danish designer. Wegner was in charge of the furniture in the Aarhus Municipal Hall, which Jacobsen designed. After some years under Jacobsen, Wegner started his own company. Along with fellow architect Børge Mogensen, he designed furniture for FDB (a Danish chain of grocery stores), spearheaded by Erik Kold - who founded an organization of Danish furniture makers that launched Danish design abroad.

Later years

In his later years Wegner became more attached to PP Møbler (which produces most of his designs today) for whom many of his later designs were made. He remained active throughout his life. An example of his later work is the "Hoop Chair", originally designed in 1965 with a steel tube base and finally put into production made entirely in wood in 1985 (for PP Møbler). Wegner has designed furniture for PP Møbler, Johannes Hansen, Carl Hansen & Son, Fritz Hansen, Getama, Fredericia Stolefabrik and others. He designed over 500 chairs and retired from public life only in the last decade of his life.


Wegner received several major design prizes, from the Lunning prize in 1951 and the Grand Prix of the Milan Triennale in the same year, to the Prince Eugen medal in Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

 and the Danish Eckersberg medal. In 1959, he was made honorary Royal designer for industry by the Royal Society of Arts
Royal Society of Arts
The Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufacturers and Commerce is a British multi-disciplinary institution, based in London. The name Royal Society of Arts is frequently used for brevity...

 in London. His furniture is present in multiple international collection including the Museum of Modern Art
Museum of Modern Art
The Museum of Modern Art is an art museum in Midtown Manhattan in New York City, on 53rd Street, between Fifth and Sixth Avenues. It has been important in developing and collecting modernist art, and is often identified as the most influential museum of modern art in the world...

 in N.Y. ant the Die Neue Samlung in Munich
Munich The city's motto is "" . Before 2006, it was "Weltstadt mit Herz" . Its native name, , is derived from the Old High German Munichen, meaning "by the monks' place". The city's name derives from the monks of the Benedictine order who founded the city; hence the monk depicted on the city's coat...



Wegner's chair designs were manufactured primarily by PP Møbler and Carl Hansen & Søn, and were largely free-standing. The "Peacock" chair from 1947, with a slatted back rest fanning out to evoke the bird's plume, was inspired by the traditional "Windsor" chair. His 1949 folding chair was made to be hung on the wall, and his "Shell" chair from the same year experimented with curving the wood in three dimensions to form the seat. The multi-purpose "Valet" chair, designed in 1953, had elements for hanging up or storing each piece of a man's suit. The backrest is carved to be used as a coat hanger, pants can be hung on a rail at the edge of the seat and everything else can be stowed in a storage space underneath the seat. In 1960 he came out with several variations on the "Ox" chair which came with or without horns, and showed the less serious side of Wegner's designs. "We must take care," he once said, "that everything doesn't get so dreadfully serious. We must play--but we must play seriously." In more recent years he has continued to design chairs and has also worked with lighting, such as the "Pole" lamp created in 1976 with his daughter Marianne. Wegner has stated that, "the chair does not exist. The good chair is a task one is never completely done with."


  • Peacock Chair (1947)
  • The Round Chair (1949)
  • Wishbone Chair (Y Chair) (1949)
  • Flag Halyard Chair (1950)
  • Swivel Chair (1955)
  • The Chair (1949)
  • Circle Chair (Hoop Chair) (1965–1986)
  • Papa Bear Chair (1951)
  • Chinese Chair, different variations (1944–1945)
  • The Ox Chair (1960)
  • The Wing Chair (1960)
  • Folding chairs (1962)
  • The Shell Chair (1963)
  • The Valet Chair (1943)


"Many foreigners have asked me how we made the Danish style. And I've answered that it...was rather a continuous process of purification, and for me of simplification, to cut down to the simplest possible elements of four legs, a seat and combined top rail and arm rest."

"The chair does not exist. The good chair is a task one is never completely done with."

"A chair is to have no backside. It should be beautiful from all sides and angles."

External links

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