The Round Chair 501/503 by Hans J Wegner

The Round chair by Hans J Wegner

A simple name for a simple design, according to the man himself. Although the rest of the world has celebrated this as one of Hans J Wegner’s most beautiful chair designs – he never quite understood what all the fuss was about. However it remains an icon for Danish woodworking and the Danish modern design philosophy.

The Round Chair is without doubt Hans J Wegner’s most important work – and the predecessor to his most successful design ‘The Wishbone Chair’. The Round Chair was designed in 1949 and the original version – model 501 – featured a woven seat. Wegner added a leather seat to the design in 1950 – model 503.

The-Round-Chair-501 by Hans J Wegner
The-Round-Chair 503 with leather seat - designed by Hans J Wegner

Shortly after this it was coined ‘The Most Beautiful Chair in the World’ by American publication ‘Interiors’. The Round chair was used in the first ever presidential debate between Richard Nixon and John F Kennedy in 1960. As a result it shot to fame with the American people, cementing Wegner’s name in the international design arena and making him one of the most prolific Danish designers to date. It would eventually be referred to merely as ‘The Chair’.

Televised presidential debate between Nixon and Kennedy in 1960

Hans J Wegner made The Round Chair a bit last minute for the annual cabinet maker’s fair in Denmark in 1949 and ironically achieved his life’s mission in terms of design: to strip away all detail and only focus on the necessary elements. However the characteristic join used in the back piece may be a practical solution to a structural problem but also a major contributor to its overall elegance.

Round-Chair- join detail

Originally produced for cabinet makers Johannes Hansen, it is still in production today from PP Furniture. Only 200-300 Round Chairs are made annually despite the demand.

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