HANS J. WEGNER: The Chair Maker of All Chair Makers

Hans J. Wagner - Photo by Metaloscus

Danish architect Hans J. Wegner is a Danish architect and ground-breaking furniture maker of the 20th century. He is the brain behind the Danish Modern and also the chair maker of all other chair makers. In other words, he is second to none in his field of specialization. Hans Wegner had assisted in transforming the nature of furniture in Denmark in the 1950s and 1960s. His enthusiasm for designing more than a few chairs is acknowledged across the world, and this is what echoed in his Master of the Chair title.

Hans Wagner is prominent when it comes to putting together executed joints with exquisite shapes perfectly, and merging them with a continuous inquisitiveness for materials and profound admiration for wood as well as its innate characteristics. His designs delivered simplicity with organic and natural suppleness.

The Life History and Early Years of Hans Jorgensen Wegner

Hans J. Wagner – Photo by Dominique Rigo

Hans Jorgensen Wegner was born to a cobbler father on April 2, 1914. This Danish furniture designer was renowned all over the world for his high-quality chairs and his immense contribution towards the international popularity of Danish furniture in those days. No wonder his style was referred to as exceptional and incomparable.

Hans J. Wegner finished his cabinet making apprenticeship when he was 17 years old. It was at this period that his maiden designs got the attention of his people. When he was 25 years old, he relocated to Copenhagen in Denmark where he enrolled in the School of Arts and Crafts. Wegner studied from 1936 to 1938 at the school before he embarked on his architect career.

Wegner partnered with Jacobsen and Moller in 1940 and started furniture designing. This was also when he started working with the master cabinet maker, which played a significant role in introducing modern design to the entire people of Denmark.

In the year 1943, Hans Wegner launched his own drawing office. In 1944, the maiden edition of China Chair was designed. One of these chairs was the Wishbone Chair, which was designed in 1949 and manufactured in 1950. This work was adjudged the most successful design of all time.

Hans J. Wegner Major Furniture Projects and Designs

Hans Wegner J16 Beech Rocking Chair – Photo by 1stDibs

A lot of Wegner’s wooden chairs were distinguished by conventional cabinetmaking techniques like the finger joints, tenons and mortise, as well as carved elements including seat supports and armrests. Wegner also used the customary creation for upholstered pieces, and frequently mixed materials like paper-cord, caning, upholstery, metal, plywood and solid wood.

Wegner had always wanted to make unexceptional things out of exceptionally high-quality things. The major designs featured in these projects are recognized for taking traditional elements and pushing them tremendous tolerances and distillations.

The J16 Rocking Chair (1944)

The number 1 Chinese Chair (1944)

Hans Wegner China Chair – Photo by Hive Modern Furniture

The back splat of the chair is fashioned into the arm rail, which ended in an attractive curved shape.

Chinese Chair number 4 (1945)

This is a cleaner sanitization of the novel form. The 4th China Chair included a lot of Danish characteristics including the seat support. In addition, there was the buffed and domed back rail that shows on a lot of succeeding Wagner chairs.

The Peacock Chair (1947)

This particular chair was enthused by a customary Windsor chair. The domed back was embellished by Wegner, forming a high backed, but still spacious chair.

The Chair (1949)

This is the work that best describes Wegner’s design viewpoint of incessant distillation to reduce to the barest minimum the elements of a seat, four legs, an armrest, and a collective top rail.

Folding Chair (1949)

The chair is handy and contained a cane seat, resembling the ancient folding chairs. There was a hook created on the chair for ease of hanging on the wall to conserve space.

Wishbone Chair of 1949

Hans Wegner Wishbone Chair – Photo by Zanui

This was the earliest group effort of both Wegner and Hansen, who produced it since 1950. In the year 1944, Wegner started a series of chairs motivated by a picture of Danish mercantile sitting in customary Ming chairs.

Wishbone chair was the last and most discrete of the series. The idea was clearly noticeable, but the chair was just in its unique form. The back legs of the chair are bent into a curve that peters out to link a circular steam-bent back rail. The carpentry was complicated but turned out to be a strong, lightweight chair.

Flag Halyard Chair of 1950

This inspiration and brain behind this chair was a result of the trip that Wegner made to the beach. It was in the course of the trip that he carved out the form in the sand. The sheepskin, rope, and metal chair were an atypical, but not extraordinary break from Wegner’s creative use of wood.

Valet Chair (1953)

Hans Wegner Valet Chair – Photo by i1stDibs

This chair came with elements meant for hanging up or storing each piece of the suit of a man. The backrest of valet chair was carved to be used as a coat hanger. In addition, pants can be hung on a rail at the edge of the seat and all other things can be stored in a storage space under the seat.

Ox Chair (1960)

This chair came with or with no horns and revealed the less serious area of the designs of Wegner. The Ox was Wegner’s much-loved chair and occupied a space in his living room until his death.

Shell Chair (1963)

Later Years of Wegner

At the later parts of his life, Wagner designed more than a few chairs. He continued to be creative all through his life. The Hoop Chair was a typical example of his later work. This chair was initially designed with steel tube base in 1965 and finally put into production made exclusively in wood in 1985. Wegner stopped working just in the 21st century.


In the history of Denmark, Hans J. Wegner was one of the most ingenious and prolific furniture designers of repute. He received more than a few tributes as a designer.

In 1995, he became an honorary member of the Academy for Fine Arts in Denmark. In 1997, he was also awarded an honorary doctor of the College of Art. Nearly all the major design museums in the world have Hans J. Wegner’s furniture in their collections.

Hans J. Wegner died in Denmark on 26 January 2007 at a ripe age of 92 years.