One of the foremost Danish designers, Hans Wegner (1914 - 2007) was a stalwart creator who worked as a carpenter first and secondarily as a designer. His focus was based on durability and comfort, employing the characteristic Danish approach of designing through clean lines and organic forms. His designs often reinterpret previous chairs and other design elements from different cultures and histories. As a carpenter and designer, the son of a shoemaker, Wegner produced with quality and quantity as his basis – designing over 500 chairs throughout his life. Primarily working with wood as his preferred material, Wegner’s chairs are an elegant negotiation of natural products and textile for comfort.
When Hans Wegner was seventeen, he became an apprentice to a carpenter. By the age of twenty, Wegner had designed his first pieces and moved to Copenhagen to study formally at The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, School of Design. Wegner studied there for two years before taking up another course on architecture. His design work is known for its pristine finishes and perfectly fitted joint designs. He collaborated with various other well-known Danish designers, and he opened his own design studio in 1943, soon after graduating. Wegner’s furniture creation can be seen as conscious of older eras, often reinterpreting or inspired by other chairs and traditional seating platforms. Wegner was awarded an honorary doctorate from The Royal College of Art in London, while named an honorary member of The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts. His iconic pieces can be found in museums and galleries around the world, from New York’s MoMA, to Die Neue Sammlung, which is in Germany.
Hans Wegner, JH 803 (first designed in 1970)
Leather and chromed metal, Carl Hansen and Son
The three-seater couch by Hans Wegner fits into the aesthetic of Danish modern design, with the contrast of soft leather and slim-lined chrome metal finishes. Wegner designed the couch in 1970 with limited quantities produced, making the earlier models quite rare. In 2008, the couch was re-launched as a feature of the 100th anniversary of the Carl Hansen and Son production company. Because the original couches are few and difficult to find, when one is auctioned it fetches extremely high prices. The stylish and minimalist style of the couch has proved timeless and elegant, with original versions remaining in good quality, years after production.