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CH07 Shell Chair

c. 1963/1998

by Hans J. Wegner
for Carl Hansen & Søn

CH07 Shell Chair

by Hans J. Wegner
for  Carl Hansen & Søn

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Today the CH07 Shell Chair is consid­ered one of the most iconic ground­break­ing designs by Hans J. Wegner. Created in 1963, it was ahead of its time, and while garner­ing praise from critics for its Avant-Gard look, the general public was reluc­tant to embrace its distinc­tive style. It wasn’t until 1998, when Carl Hansen & Son rere­leased the Shell Chair, it found the spot­light- imme­di­ately receiv­ing broad public admiration.

Wegn­er’s Shell Chair achieves a float­ing light­ness with its wing-like seat and arching curved legs. Its signa­ture seat and back­rest are created from uphol­stered form-pressed veneer, cradling the user in gener­ous comfort. The Shell Chair mani­fests Wegn­er’s belief that a chair should always be comfort­able and beau­ti­ful from all sides and angles.

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Hans J. Wegner

Denmark (1914–2007)

If Danish modernism is best known and beloved for the use of traditional techniques to emphasize materiality—graceful curves honoring the grain of fine walnut, for example—that’s thanks in large part to Hans J. Wegner. Born in southern Denmark, at 14 Wegner began an apprenticeship with Danish master cabinetmaker H. F. Stahlberg, where he honed a preternatural talent and learned skills he’d bring to bear throughout a career lasting some eighty years and full of design masterpieces.

While studying at the School of Arts and Crafts in Copenhagen, Wegner worked for Arne Jacobsen and Erik Møller on a range of furniture for the Aarhus City Hall. Four years after graduation, he had showcased a chair at the Copenhagen Museum of Art and Industry, and opened his own firm. Sculptural, surprisingly comfortable seating became Wegner’s trademark: for Fritz Hansen, the floating Chinese chairs; for Carl Hansen & Sons, he designed the instant classic Wishbone, Shell, and Elbow chairs; for PP Møbler, the cozy Papa Bear, iconic Round, and buoyant Circle chairs; and countless others, most still in production.

Wegner retired in 1993 and died fourteen years later, but his work lives on in its ubiquity across residential, hospitality, and corporate design—not to mention the Museum Sønderjylland’s permanent exhibition of the three dozen chairs he felt were his very best in a water tour in his hometown of Tønder.

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