Hans J. Wegner and Johannes Hansen

Expert craftsmen

Hans J. Wegner and Johannes Hansen introduced a number of notable furniture forms at the Cabinetmaker's Guild Exhibitions in Copenhagen. Their collaboration began in 1941 and lasted through 1966, the final year of the guild exhibitions. Together, Wegner and Hansen created works that set the standard for other exhibition participants.

The 1949 Cabinetmaker's Guild Exhibition stands out for its highly admired dining suite, including this expertly crafted dining table, and the debut of two of Wegner's most iconic chair designs, The Chair and the Folding Chair.

The dining suite by Hans J. Wegner for Johannes Hansen at the 1949 Cabinetmaker's Guild Exhibition. Dansk Møbelkunst gennem 40 Aar: 1947-1956, Jalk, pg. 99.

The next stand, and the one which I found to be the exhibition's greatest experience, contained furniture made by Hans J. Wegner and Johannes Hansen. They confront us with something altogether different; a classic simplicity both in analytical approach and in the synthesis of its practical application. No words were needed, the pieces spoke for themselves.

—Børge Glahn, architect

Hans J. Wegner 1914–2007

Hans J. Wegner was born in Tønder, Denmark in 1914. As a teenager, Wegner apprenticed with master cabinetmaker H.F. Stahlberg before enrolling at the Danish School of Arts and Crafts in 1936. In 1940, Wegner teamed with Arne Jacobson and Erik Møller to design furniture for the newly built City Hall building in Aarhus, Denmark. In 1943, Wegner opened his own drafting studio. Wegner insisted on the highest standard of craftsmanship for his furniture, and his chairs often feature traditional mortise and tenon joints and unique materials such as paper cord.

Wegner’s famed China series (inspired by the imperial Chinese chairs from the Ming dynasty) was designed in 1949. That same year he introduce what is probably his most iconic seating design, The Chair at the Cabinetmakers Guild exhibition in Copenhagen. In 1951, his chairs were featured in the Museum of Modern Art’s famous Good Design exhibit. His chairs reached a national audience in 1960 when John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon sat in them during the televised presidential debate. In 1971, Wegner was awarded the Diploma di Collaborazione at the Milano Triennale. Wegner created his innovative three-legged stacking chair known as the PP58 in 1988. In 1992, he retired from his firm and his daughter Marianne took over his practice. Wegner died in 2007.

In 2014, the Design Museum of Denmark honored Wegner with a retrospective of his work. Wegner’s furniture designs are held in the collections across the globe and can be found in the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Victoria and Albert in London, and the Vitra Design Museum in Germany, among many others.

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