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Hans J. Wegner (1914–2007)
Best known as ‘the Master of the Chairs,' Wegner created fascinating modern furniture that was both innovative and experimental. He was a furniture designer and a modernist that emphasized the practicality and uniqueness in each piece that he crafted. He believed the versatility and functionality of his designs were as vital as the aesthetic of them, which is visible in every Hans Wegner furniture piece.
Born in Tønder, a southern Denmark town, Wegner discovered he had a talent in woodworking at an early age. While apprenticing at H.F. Stahlberg, Wegner designed his first chair at the age of 17 in 1931. When he visited Copenhagen to fulfill his military service, Wegner saw the annual exhibitions of the Copenhagen Cabinetmakers’ Guild, a trade exhibition where some of the best carpenters and architects of the time got invited, and realized that he needed to improve his skills considerably before he could open his own workshop.
This exhibition gave Wegner an idea of what he could be capable of designing. He decided to attend the School of Arts and Crafts in 1936. After his studies, Wegner joined Arne Jacobsen and Erick Møller and helped to design the new City Hall in Aarhus in 1940. This experience motivated Wegner to open his office in 1943 and start designing home furniture and some office pieces in which he utilized measurement studies and dimensional analysis to create. Historic furniture styles including the English Windsor chair, rustic American Shaker furniture, and 17th Century Chinese chairs were part of his influences and inspiration.
Wegner is now worldly recognized as one of the pioneer designers of the Mid-Century Danish Modern movement and one of the most influential of the mid-20th century furniture design period. Wegner left a legacy of over 500 chair designs that went into production and more than 3,500 drawings of furniture – most never produced. Among Wegner’s highly sought after chair designs are the Wishbone chair, Round chair, and Shell chair.