This year marks the 100th anniversary of Danish designer Hans Wegner and Carl Hansen & Son, the world’s largest manufacturer of Wegner’s furniture, has every reason to celebrate.
This year marks the 100th anniversary of Danish designer Hans Wegner and Carl Hansen & Son, the world’s largest manufacturer of Wegner’s furniture, has every reason to celebrate. Danish furniture design has a longstanding tradition as admirable as it is influential. Names such as Arne Jacobsen, Verner Panton and Hans Wegner have distinguished its history with an aesthetic that is characteristically clean and uncomplicated. It sets a high benchmark for emerging designers, especially considering the number of Danish mid-century designs that are now universally recognised as iconic. One such classic is Wegner’s Wishbone chair, which he originally designed for Carl Hansen & Son in 1949 and was put into production in 1950. According to Morten Larsen, Carl Hansen & Son’s Sales Director for South Eeast Asia, Australia and New Zealand, it is the highest selling Wegner item they manufacture. The fact this year marks the 100th anniversary of the designer’s birth has further increased the chair’s popularity. “It’s also a significant milestone for us,” Larsen says. “Especially since Carl Hansen & Son is the world’s largest manufacturer of Wegner’s furniture and all of the manufacturing still takes place in Denmark.” To commemorate the 100th anniversary, the Danish manufacturer has launched Wegner’s CH88. It features powder-coated stainless steel legs; not a style usually associated with the Carl Hansen & Son brand, nonetheless, it is a fine addition to their existing portfolio. The family-owned company expanded its premises in 2001, replacing the original factory built in 1915 with a much larger one. From a business perspective the expansion has meant shorter lead times (which previously had been up to two years) and increased production. “So we’ve been able to take on many of Wegner’s other designs,” Larsen explains. “It’s said he created over 500 of them and our new factory now has the capacity to accommodate much more.” With a workforce that has grown from 15 to 250 employees, Carl Hansen & Son boasts some of the best craftspeople in the business. As Larsen reflects, “Our focus is always at the quality level; we actually refer to it as ‘passionate craftsmanship’, because we have skilled workers that are working every day on promoting Danish design and keeping it alive.” Carl Hansen & Son invests in joiner apprenticeships and many of these people stay with the company once they are certified. In fact, some of their best weavers (responsible for weaving the Wishbone chair’s seat) have been with the company for 19 years. While Hong Kong-based Larsen was in Australia recently to raise awareness of these two new products, he was also here to promote the company’s support of Wegner. During Melbourne Indesign he was a guest of Cult and when in Adelaide he was hosted by Aptos Cruz, both stockists of the Carl Hansen & Son brand, including Wegner’s designs. The Danish manufacturer’s most recent collaboration, however, has been with Japanese architect Tadao Ando, who designed the Dream chair. Released as a prototype in 2012, the final product launched at last year’s Milan Furniture Fair. “He made it as a tribute to Wegner,” Larsen explains. “So it doesn’t really get much better than that… Ando designing a ;tribute to Wegner.” aptoscruz.com carlhansen.com cultdesign.com.au