Last week we featured Marcel Breuer.
Creator of the iconic, and weird, Flag Halyard chair, the Peacock chair, and a 1949 design that’s just called “The Chair”, we present to you Hans Jorgensen Wegner: Danish furniture designer, pioneer, iconoclast, and artist.
Born in Tønder, south Denmark, in 1914, Wegner was the son of a cobbler, and became pretty interested with craftsmanship at a very early age. He worked as a child apprentice in the workshop of H. F. Stalhberg until the age of 20, when he joined the army. After being discharged he went to the famous Danish School of Arts and Crafts and the Architectural Academy in Copenhagen.
Innovation, functionality, and comfort
Starting with the Flag Halyard chair (1940s), which imitates the feeling of sinking comfortably into the sand (at a beach, for example), Wegner produced more than 500 distinct chair designs, though only about a hundred ever saw the light of production.
He became associated with the Organic Functionality school, which emphasized function over form and allowed its alumni to try and experiment with different types of materials and builds that weren’t usually considered for pieces of furniture.
Following his love and passion for woodwork, which he probably inherited from his years of cabinetmaking, he designed four types of Chinese chairs around 1944 that became his first professional and artistic endeavors.
Three years later, he would design his famous Peacock chair, which imitates the bird’s tail on its back, and was the product of Wegner’s pursuit for a simpler, functional form. A design that was deprived of unnecessary complications and additives.
The Shell chair and his later years
The idea for the ubiquitous Flag Halyard chair came to Wegner in the 1950s. At the time he was already an established designer that could afford to take even more risks that he did at the beginning of his career.
He thus produced the sleek Wishbone chair and the horned Ox lounge chair, which came with an ottoman. Wegner kept experimenting with strange combinations of materials, shapes, and inspirations from the animal world until his death in 2007.
Nowadays he’s mostly recognized for the Flag Halyard chair and the playful Shell chair (1963) which, you guessed it, draws its shape from the idea of a sea shell.