Hans J. Wegner, a Danish Modern furniture designer, was best known for his classic yet comfortable chairs that helped shape the modern design movement of the 1950's and 60's. He might have been better known for his Wishbone chair (still produced today by Carl Hansen & Son), or the Chair (also called the Round Chair, which was elevated to fame by the televised Nixon & Kennedy debate where both candidates were seated in The Chair), but there was another chair, also introduced in 1949 by Mr. Wegner, that achieved a great amount of success; the Folding Chair, nowadays often referred to as the "rope chair".
Hans Wegner, 1914 - 2007, was a trained cabinet-maker who went on to study at the Copenhagen School of Arts and Crafts. Later he worked as a furniture designer in Arne Jacobsen and Erik Moller's architectural practice before setting up his own design office in Gentofte in 1943. Throughout his career, he designed furniture for the Johannes Hansen and Fritz Hansen furniture companies.
The Folding Chair, which is often referred to as the rope chair, was created by drawing on historic folding chairs. It was lightweight, with a cane seat, and Mr. Wegner created a hook so the chair could be hung on the wall to save on space. It should also be noted that Mr. Wegner did not name his chairs, instead letting his customers or manufacturers name them, which did lead to much confusion over his designs.
Mr. Wegner brought a fresh approach to furniture design, which at that time was flooded with the shiny-chrome furniture of the Bauhaus style. He introduced us to designs that celebrated high craftsmanship — employing joinery techniques like mortise and tenons and finger joints — while also adding sculptural elements that were often pushed to the extreme. Mr. Wegner was quoted saying, "A chair is to have no backside. It should be beautiful from all sides and angles." But above all else, beauty included, he wanted his designs to remain functional and ultimately comfortable, which was the highest praise.
Like many design classics, the Folding Chair has been reproduced by many as an affordable alternative to the Hans Wegner original. The majority of the reproductions on the market were made in Yugoslavia. Here is a collection of images of the Folding chair, from the original to reproductions, showing that this classic design looks just as good on an outdoor deck as it does in a modern living room.
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(Images: As linked above.)