Hans J. Wegner, (1914 - 2007), was a world renowned Danish furniture designer. His high quality and thoughtful work, along with a concerted effort from several of his manufacturers, contributed to the international popularity of mid-century Danish design. His style is often described as Organic Functionality, a modernist school with emphasis on functionality. This school of thought arose primarily in Scandinavian countries with contributions by Poul Henningsen, Alvar Aalto, and Arne Jacobsen. In his lifetime he designed over 500 different chairs, over 100 of which were put into mass production and many of which have become recognizable design icons.
Born to cobbler Peter M. Wegner in Tønder, in southern Denmark, he worked as a child apprentice to master cabinetmaker H. F. Stahlberg. He soon discovered he had a feeling for wood and developed an affinity towards the material. Finishing his apprenticeship at 17 he remained in the workshop for another three years before joining the army. He went to technical college after serving in the military, and then to the Danish School of Arts and Crafts and the Architectural Academy in Copenhagen.
In Copenhagen he became acquainted with the city's Carpenters' Guild Furniture Exhibits, started in 1927. In 1936, he began studies at what is now The Danish Design School, with O. Mølgaard Nielsen as teacher. In 1938 Wegner was employed in Århus, first under architects Erik Møller and Flemming Lassen and then in 1940 under Jacobsen and Møller. Wegner worked for some time for Arne Jacobsen, a successful Danish designer. Wegner was in charge of the furniture in the Aarhus Municipal Hall, which Jacobsen designed. After some years under Jacobsen, Wegner started his own company. Along with fellow architect Børge Mogensen, he designed furniture for FDB (a Danish chain of grocery stores), spearheaded by Erik Kold - who founded an organization of Danish furniture makers that launched Danish design abroad.
In his later years Wegner became more attached to PP Møbler (which produces many of pieces originally designed for Johannes Hansen) and for whom he designed several chairs late in his life. He remained active throughout his life. An example of his later work is the "Hoop Chair", originally designed in 1965 with a steel tube base and finally put into production made entirely in wood in 1985 (for PP Møbler). Wegner retired from public life only in the last decade of his life.
Wegner received several major design prizes, from the Lunning prize in 1951 and the Grand Prix of the Milan Triennale in the same year, to the Prince Eugen medal in Sweden and the Danish Eckersberg medal. In 1959, he was made honorary Royal designer for industry by the Royal Society of Arts in London. His furniture is present in multiple international collection including the Museum of Modern Art in N.Y. and the Die Neue Sammlung in Munich.
Hans J. Wegner has passed away It is with the greatest regret that we learn that Architect Hans J. Wegner passed away peacefully on 26th January 2007. He reached an age of 92 years. Hans J. Wegner worked hard during his long life and created furniture that became the inspiration of a whole generation and in spite of the rapid change in technology and lifestyle is still sought after objects in our time. Born in Denmark in 1914 he trained as both a master cabinetmaker and an architect. He became a world renowned architect who was bestowed with many international honours during his time. Generally, Hans J. Wegner was considered the "Master of the Chair", with more than 400 chairs to his name. Today many of his furniture creations are on display at leading design museums around the world For all he created - a strong concentration on minimalism, quality and functionality were always in focus.