Whoppah logo
Article cover
Hans J Wegner

Discover with Whoppah: Hans J Wegner

Discover with us everything about the iconic designer: Hans J Wegner.

Author avatar
ByEvelien RemmelsAugust 2021

Who is Hans J Wegner?

Hans Jorgensen Wegner was born on April 2, 1914 in Tonder, Jutland, in southern Denmark. His father was a shoemaker and partly because of this influence on little Hans, he became fascinated by craftsmanship and design at an early age. As a teenager, Hans got a part-time job at H.F. Stahlberg, a well-known furniture maker. There he became fascinated by the use of wood for artisan furniture. After serving in the Danish army, he enrolled as a carpenter at the Copenhagen Institute of Technology, after which he studied for two years between 1936 and 1938 at the School of Art, Crafts and Design in Copenhagen. It was during this time that he was surrounded by great designers and furniture makers who were known for their craftsmanship and producing top quality. This experience motivated him to continue and provided him with the foundation to become the world-renowned top designer. His appetite for constantly designing and creating new products kept him working until he finally retired from public life in the 2000s, when he was in his late 80s.

ParagraphPhoto: Hans J Wegner sitting in the Flag Halyard chair

The style of Hans J Wegner

His signature style, which emphasizes modernist functionality, has allowed his creative spirit to permeate the living rooms and kitchens of homes around the world. He found the perfect balance between: functional, ergonomically minimalist and aesthetic. Hans J Wegner: “Many foreigners have asked me how we made the Danish style. And I've answered that it...was rather a continuous process of purification, and for me of simplification, to cut down to the simplest possible elements of four legs, a seat and combined top rail and arm rest.

ParagraphPhoto: Wegner Shell chair

The icons

In 1943 Hans founded his own office, which soon led to one of his first groundbreaking designs: the China Chair. In 1950, the American magazine Interiors described Hans' thatched 'Round Cane Chair' as 'the most beautiful chair in the world'. Not a bad honor to have at age 36. Around that time, Hans launched his most famous design: the Wishbone chair with a Y-back. This legendary design, along with several of his other acclaimed designs, has been exhibited in several leading museums, including New York's Museum of Modern Art and the prestigious Copenhagen Museum of Art and Industry. His other icon: three-legged 'Shell Chair' is part of the permanent exhibition of the 'Designmuseum Denmark' in Copenhagen. Hans J Wegner: “A chair is to have no backside. It should be beautiful from all sides and angles.”

ParagraphPhoto: Wegner posing with his iconic chair designs

Art dealer Gijs van Kerkhoff about Hans J Wegner:

“A beautiful story is about Hans J Wegner's breakthrough in the United States. This happened because his famous “Round Chair” later known as “The Chair” played a leading role in the televised election debate between John F Kennedy and Richard Nixon. Kennedy, who was in a lot of pain in his back, knew very well that in the live broadcast it was very important that he appeared energetic. One of Kennedy's demands was that he be allowed to choose the chair to be used during the debate and his choice was Wegner's chair. Van Wegner is now known for the importance of ergonomics in his designs and Kennedy was by far the strongest of the two candidates in the debate. It was the beginning of Hans Wegner's success in the US and perhaps thanks to the Round Chair Kennedy won the election.”

ParagraphPhoto: John F. Kennedy sitting in “The Chair” during his election debate against Richard Nixon in 1960.