The Wishbone Chair – famous for its distinctive wishbone-shaped back – was designed by Hans J. Wegner in 1949 and has remained in continuous production at Carl Hansen & Son ever since.
Hans J. Wegner left nothing to chance when his Wishbone Chair was to enter production. On account of the intense working relationship between the designer and the joiners, Wegner decided to move in with Carl Hansen’s family on the Danish island of Funen so that he could monitor every single process at the factory first-hand during the final, critical weeks. He was adamant that the final result should not be compromised, and made a point of personally supervising all phases of the production process up until the launch in 1950.
100 processes and three weeks later…
The unique aspect of the Wishbone Chair is the simplicity of the Danish Design gem’s appearance. But the smooth surface conceals hard work. To create the finished product, Carl Hansen & Son’s craftsmen spend around three weeks preparing and assembling the 14 parts that make up the chair and hand-weaving the seat. In fact, over 100 production steps are required to make a single chair, and most of the processes demand manual work. The smell of the wood, the feeling of the curvature in the lovingly steam-shaped backrest, and the inspection of the final sanding are some of the aspects that dictate whether each individual chair meets Wegner’s stringent demands.
The unique seat is woven by specially trained staff: an experienced weaver spends about an hour producing one. The seat, which requires 120 meters of cord, can only be made by handas the manual process ensures a finer weave that provides the best possible sitting experience.
“On account of its expressive, graphic appearance, the Wishbone Chair is an icon for everything Danish Design stands for: the finest craftsmanship, a sense for detail and the material, user-orientation, and superior durability. With his Wishbone Chair, Wegner proved that it is possible to create something truly trail-blazing by studying tradition. In fact, this is the only way to design something that extends far beyond its own time,” says Christian Holmsted Olesen, Head of Exhibitions and Collections at Designmuseum Denmark.
Today, the Wishbone Chair is in great demand internationally. It enjoys a privileged life, taking pride of place at some of the finest hotels and restaurants in the world including Restaurant Nimb in Denmark and The National Art Center in Tokyo, Japan. It is also an immutable fixture on the cosmopolitan furniture scene.
In Asia, the Wishbone Chair is so hugely popular that the Japanese market alone accounts for more than a quarter of its annual production. In contrast to the Scandinavian markets, where light wood is the preferred choice, Japanese purchasers are more tempted by the darker shades of walnut or cherry wood.
Interesting facts about the Wishbone Chair:
- The Wishbone Chair consists of a total of 14 parts.
- The production process comprises more than 100 steps.
- It takes three weeks to make one Wishbone Chair.
- In all, there are more than 150 unique combinations of the Wishbone Chair.
- The seat of the Wishbone Chair is woven from 120 meters of paper cord. This is enough to rappel all the way to the ground from the top of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London – and still have nine meters of cord to spare.
- In the mid-1990s, the height of the Wishbone Chair was increased by 2 cm to reflect the increase in height of the population.
- In Japan, where purchasers prefer the models in dark wood, the chair is still sold in its
- The Danish market purchases the most Wishbone Chairs. The second-largest market is Japan, and the rest of the production is sold in countries all over the world today.
- The Wishbone Chair was the first Hans J. Wegner design to enter serial production.
The Wishbone Chair is available in ash, beech, oak, maple, walnut and cherry, with coloured, oiled, stained soap, or lye-treated finishes. Three versions of the woven seat are available: natural, white and black. The chair has a seat height of 45 cm, and is 76 cm high, 55 cm wide, and 51 cm deep.
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