Mid-century master cabinet-maker and Danish furniture designer Hans J. Wegner and I share a long history. And while we never met, I have loved him all my life.
Several of his solid teak pieces were permanent fixtures in my childhood home after my parents acquired them while living in Denmark during the summer of 1961. This sewing basket table now sits prominently in my New York City apartment and is a daily reminder of the effect that their joyful wanderlust and casual sophistication had on my own aesthetic.
Wegner’s desire to combine traditional elements with a quiet, economical line resulted in work that is understated and elegant. His iconic and still recognizable creations, established him as a founder and leader of the Organic Modernism movement and helped to define the term Danish Modern. Reproductions of many of his chairs are still being sold today all over the world.
The Design Museum Danmark that is celebrating Wegner’s influence and importance with a major retrospective entitled Just One Good Chair calls Wegner’s work a “poetic take on modernism.” The exhibition explores the breadth and impact of his prolific career by showing his creative process with drawings and photos and models and completed designs of more than 150 of his original works.
Wegner summed up his career perfectly when he said, ““If only you could design just one good chair in your life… But you simply cannot.”