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The History of the Wishbone Chair

Wishbone chair is a triumph of both beauty and simplicity. It goes to show that by keeping something looking clean and simple it can look amazing. It’s a very lightweight and comfortable dining chair which has an interesting shaped back. Even though it looks simple, it’s quite complicated to make a chair.

When was the First Wishbone Chair Designed?

The first Wishbone chair was designed by Hans Jorgensen Wegner in 1949. It was the first time that Wegner entered into a partnership with Hansen and Son, a chair manufacturer. The chair was put into production in 1950 and has remained the same ever since. It’s very rare for such a product to remain unchanged throughout over 60 years of continuous production. What’s more it still looks as modern and inspiring as ever.

Walk into a very well known Scandinavian furniture store one month, and you’re very unlikely to see the same designs on a return trip the next month. The Wishbone chair though is perfect how it is and so doesn’t need any tweaking or improvements made to it at all.

Design

The chair is designed using clean lines and curves. The back has an interesting Y design. It’s thought that the design of this chair was actually inspired by Ming dynasty Chinese chairs. While the design of the chair is simple, the production processes are far from simple.

There are 14 parts used to produce the chair, but in total 100 different processes are required to shape and sculpt the parts into the desired dimensions. Once everything is assembled 120 meters of cord is hand woven into the seat to create a very comfortable pad.

Although the chairs are inspired by traditional Chinese furniture, different production methods were used. This included using steam to bend the back legs and reduce the number of parts required. This means that the chair is not only strong, but is also very lightweight. The design of this chair was revolutionary and challenged many of the concepts of chair design. This did however make production quite complicated.

In a world of flat pack furniture where designs can change monthly, or even weekly, it’s refreshing to see such a timeless classic has stood the test of time. These chairs are still highly prized items and are shipped all around the world. Production techniques might of evolved, but the design and overall construction of the chairs have remained unchanged throughout history.

Production

The chairs are produced mainly by hand by using traditional techniques. Modern machinery is now used to ensure accuracy and to speed up production. For example, instead of parts being shaped by hand, now modern milling machines are often used to accurately mill and produce components for the chair.

The Y shaped back piece however is still chiseled by hand out of laminated plywood. The supports at the side of the chair are also shaped by hand with considerable skill. In total it takes about 3 weeks of production to produce an individual chair. This goes to show that not everything that looks simple necessarily is.

All of the assembly work for the chair is carried out by hand. Each part is meticulously fitted and adjusted if required. Then the weaving of the 120 meters of cord for the seat can begin.

The chair is produced in a wide range of different colors and finishes, including a few limited edition designs. The most popular appears to be the plain beech wood color, as this highlights the simplistic design. The latest limited edition was only available on 2nd April 2014, and this was released to mark what would of been the 100th birthday of the designer. This edition featured a laser engraved signature and birth dates of Wegner.

Designer of Wishbone Chair

The designer of the beautiful wishbone chair was Hans Jorgensen Wegner. He was born on 2nd April 1914 and unfortunately passed away in 2007. He was a very well known furniture designer from Denmark. Throughout his lifetime he produced over 500 different designs for various chairs, a fifth of these designs were mass produced and lots of them, like the Wishbone chair have become timeless classic chair designs. Hans Wegner was credited with being at the forefront of the Danish modern furniture design movement which affected many Scandinavian countries.

Wegner produced plenty of other chair designs. He normally preferred to use wood and his most well known examples included the Peacock and Ox chair. He also experimented with other materials and production methods at times, including his Flag Haylard Chair which was constructed from sheepskin, rope and metal.

Choosing Tables

The wishbone chair is designed to look as simple as possible, even so you will find that your eyes will get drawn to it. As a result the best tables to choose are ones that are a similar color and fairly plain design. It’s a bad idea to choose anything which would dominate and take away from the stunning design of the chair. It’s still important though to choose a good quality table which still looks nice in its own right. The chairs though should be the star of the show. Wegner also designed a range of dining tables, some of which go with the wishbone chair.
The Carl Hansen website has a section dedicated on helping customer’s find the ideal table to suit their beautiful new chairs.

About Carl Hansen

Carl Hansen founded the company way back in 1908. He put a lot of emphasis on using traditional craftsman skills to produce furniture made to a very high quality. Carl Hansen still only uses the best craftsmen to produce the highest quality furniture possible. This furniture offers customers exceptional value for money.
The company does their best to consider the environment when producing their furniture. All wood is sourced from forests which are carefully managed. The furniture is also designed to last for a long time and is not intended to be disposable.

Future of the Wishbone Chair

It’s nice to look back and see that this chair has stayed in continuous production for over 60 years. It’s also lovely to see that there are no plans to reduce or suspend production. Not everyone wants to have a flat packed chair which can be assembled using a tiny Allen key. Some people want a genuine piece of history that is more than just a piece of furniture. The Wishbone chair will become a member of the family, a conversation starter, and a functional, practical piece of furniture.

As well as the standard wishbone chair, many different color schemes are available. It’s also possible to buy seat cushions from other well known designers, or even a leather cushion to make the seat look a bit different.

Currently Hansen and Son ship the completed wishbone chairs all around the world. There are many different distributors located in different countries. Take a look at the official Hansen & Son website to track down your nearest and find out how to place an order.