Carl Hansen & Søn

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HANS J. WEGNER: THE FIRST MASTERPIECES

The remarkable legacy of five chair designs by Hans J. Wegner has shaped the Carl Hansen & Søn philosophy for over 65 years and is a celebration of collaboration and craftsmanship.

HANS J. WEGNER: THE FIRST MASTERPIECES

What makes a masterpiece? According to most dictionaries it is defined as a 'work of outstanding artistry, skill or workmanship'. Only a few would have predicted that during his first weeks working with Carl Hansen & Søn, Hans J. Wegner would develop a chair series that would later be deemed iconic examples of modern Danish design.

The CH22, CH23, CH24 and CH25 all embody different sculptural expressions of Wegner's unmistakable skill with wood and his deep understanding of the relationship between form and comfort. The iconic CH24, more famously known as the Wishbone Chair, and the CH25 lounge chair have been in continuous production at Carl Hansen & Søn since they were introduced in 1950. The CH22 and CH23, both out of production for various periods of time, have returned, as well as the CH26 dining chair - originally only a blueprint but manufactured for the first time in 2016. This year, all the original designs are reunited for a new celebration of Wegner's mastery and vision.

"The first of Wegner's chair designs for Carl Hansen & Søn - including the newly launched CH23 - were extremely avant-garde at the time. There was a completely new and exciting expression to the work, but also a simplicity that appealed to many people," explains Carl Hansen & Søn CEO Knud Erik Hansen. "The first chairs had a totally unique expression and their quality was first-class. Each chair had its own original look and contained characteristic elements that were later included in other chair designs,"

 

Photos 1-2: Hans J. Wegner's original four designs for Carl Hansen & Søn. Photo 3: Hans J. Wegner at the 50th Anniversary of Carl Hansen & Søn in 1958.

It was Knud Erik's father, Holger Hansen, who first approached the then unknown young Wegner about collaborating with the company, a partnership that went on to define the quality and characteristics of the Carl Hansen & Søn brand and its desire to pursue the finest craftsmanship, creativity and collaboration. Now all in production once again, the iconic designs are manufactured at Carl Hansen & Søn's factory in Gelsted on the Danish island of Funen, where talented furniture-makers and weavers continue the legacy of excellence in craftsmanship.

Wegner's early designs share common traits that uniquely mark them as his and which reflect his respect for ergonomics and the tactility of natural materials. All five chairs feature hand-woven paper cord: the CH25 uses 400 metres of paper cord and it takes an experienced weaver ten hours to create the chair's double-woven back and seat. The CH24 Wishbone Chair is famous for its curved back and armrest, made from a single piece of steam-bent wood and was considered a breakthrough in modern chair design and comfort when it was first launched. Each paper cord seat is expertly woven to last for almost a lifetime, and can be re-woven if necessary, making these chairs timeless investments and sought-after collector's pieces.

 

Photos: The craftsmanship that goes into making the CH23 chair. Gelsted, Denmark 2017.

Christian Holmsted Olesen, Head of Exhibitions and Collections at Designmuseum Denmark says: "The first chairs possess all the properties that characterize Danish Design: they are based on a long history of craftsmanship and are all inspired by historical furniture types. They are made from natural materials and are therefore both sustainable and durable. They feature organic forms and have a human dimension - even with their strong artistic expression, they are clearly designed for everyday use."

Unlike traditional works of art, Wegner's early masterpieces for Carl Hansen & Søn were designed to be used as well as admired, and it is their inherent, unique and century-defining design characteristics that in turn honor Wegner as a true master of design.

Photos: Hans J. Wegner designs: CH23, CH25, CH24, CH22 and CH26.

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