Widely referred to as the ‘Chair Master’, Wegner is responsible for designing what is arguably one of the most iconic chairs of the modern era. In fact, the Wishbone chair is probably one of Hans J. Wegner’s most celebrated work. We wanted to share with you some info we found in articles from Authentic Design, Danish Design Store and EST Magazine (issue #2) about the famous designer and this classic chair, as well as tips on how to spot a replica from the real deal.
“In 1944, Danish designer Hans Wegner began a series of chairs that were inspired by portraits of Danish merchants sitting in Ming Chairs. One of these chairs was the Wishbone Chair (1949), also known as the ‘Y’ or ‘CH-24’, which has been produced by the Danish firm Carl Hansen & Son since 1950.
The son of a shoemaker, Wegner was trained as a cabinetmaker before attending the School of Arts and Crafts in Copenhagen, after which he began his career as an architect. Just three years later, Wegner started his own design office, and his work soon caught the eye of the folks at Carl Hansen & Son.
The light, sculptural Wishbone Chair was exactly what the Hansen company was looking for to supplement the heavier forms that were popular at the time. However, the Wishbone was a challenging chair to make, as this steam-bent solid wood frame demands perfect craftsmanship and an intimate knowledge of wood joinery.
Even today, the seat is still hand woven from paper cord, a durable material developed during WWII as a substitute for jute. Using the best natural materials, the sculptural Wishbone is made to last for generations and offers outstanding sitting comfort. In recent years, Carl Hansen & Son introduced the CH24 in bright blues, vibrant yellows, and soft pastels. All chairs are still made in Denmark.
How to spot a fake Wishbone
One of the two chairs above is a replica. Do you know which one? If you’ve answered b), you are right! But it’s really not that obvious, right?
Here are a few tips to help you spot a real one:
Spot a fake instantly by looking at the curved top rail. Made from one solid piece of steam-bent timber the real Wishbone has no joins. Curved, tapered dowels support the seat in the real Wishbone.
The seat is one of the most telling signs of a fake Wishbone. Made from highly durable paper cord the real Wishbone seat has a tight uniform weave. The fake chairs are made from cheap nylon or synthetic cord.
Look closely at the weaving: it should be tight, at near-perfect 90-degree angles and the front left should be exactly the same as the front right.
Made from good quality sustainable Danish timbers such as oak, ash and walnut, the real Wishbone has an even finish in color with no knots. The fake chairs have knots and an uneven finish in the timber.
If the price is too good to be true, chances are the chair is too good to be true too…
Newer Wishbone Chairs feature a label on the underside, at the back, that displays the Carl Hansen & Son logo, Hans J. Wegner’s signature, and the serial number. Other versions of the Wishbone Chair have a sticker label, and even older ones have just a branded Carl Hansen & Son mark (see examples below).
If you don’t see a label, or if looks suspect, be wary.
Take out the tape measure and make sure they match these specifications:
Seat Back Height: 75cm (29.53in)
Front of Top Rail Height: 71cm (27.95in)
Seat Front Height: 45cm (17.72in)
Front Legs Ground Width: 55cm (21.65in)
Depth – From Front Leg to Back of Curved Rail: 51cm (20.08in)
Photos: Toby Scott via EST
P.S Looking for the best gift ideas? Have a look at our 2019 guide for design lovers!