The Vitra Design Museum pays homage to Hans Jørgensen Wegner. One of the most influential and recognized icons of Danish design.

Hans J. Wegner.
Foto: Poul Petersen.

The Wishbone, Peacock and Round chairs by Danish furniture designer Hans Jørgensen Wegner (1914-2007) are just a tiny example of the legacy left by one of the most significant figures in post-war Scandinavian design. Despite their often unpretentious names, many of their pieces have become classics of modern furniture design. They combine Danish craftsmanship with an expressive aesthetic and practical functionalism.

The Vitra Schaudepot museum in Weil am Rhein, Germany, presents a selection of Wegner’s most important designs and illuminates the background details and historical context in which they were created. The exhibition is complemented by several photographs and films that illustrate the process and the design principles of the famous Danish designer. The works of his contemporaries are exhibited in the Vitra Schaudepot, along with historical objects that served as inspiration for the designer. Hans J. Wegner received his training (1936-1938) as a cabinetmaker at the School of Arts and Crafts in Copenhagen.

He belonged to a generation of designers, among them Arne Jacobsen, Børge Mogensen, Finn Juhl and Poul Kjaerholm, who brought worldwide recognition to Scandinavian design in the postwar era. Over the course of his career, Wegner created more than 1000 designs, of which about 150 are still produced. Known as the most productive furniture manufacturer of his generation, he played an important role in shaping the style that has become known and valued as Scandinavian furniture design.

With his mastery of carpentry techniques, the trained cabinetmaker integrated his knowledge as a craftsman directly into his designs. His works are characterized by his careful handling of wood and an enthusiasm for small details. He responded to the scarcity of resources of the time with highly efficient designs in materials, in strict compliance with the “no more than absolutely necessary” principle. Wegner did not strive for pure asceticism or extreme austerity, but freely incorporated expressive forms as an advocate of Organic Modernism. He was inspired by the classics of modern furniture design or historical furniture of foreign cultures and reinterpreted them to his own style. The exhibition curated by Heng Zhi, will be open until June 3, 2018 at the facilities of the Vitra Design Museum.