Feeling quite confident about the strength and agility of the pp66 Chinese Chair, Wegner was bold enough to develop the construction by designing a bench thus creating an even stronger character. For Wegner this is the only example of this kind of progression of shape and design, from wooden armchair to bench, and thus the Chinese Bench remains a unique and extraordinary accomplishment.
The Chinese Bench remained a prototype until 1991 when it was finally possible to put it into production, thanks to the pioneering experiments at PP Møbler with the pre-compression wood bending technique.
Still the Chinese Bench poses a great challenge to even the most skilled craftsmen, not merely because of the woodwork, but also because the long paper cord seat demands an unusual degree of accuracy in order to appear linear.
Son of a shoe-maker in southern Jutland, Hans Wegner, finished his formal training as a cabinetmaker with master cabinetmaker Stahlberg in 1930 before starting at Teknologisk Institut in Copenhagen. He soon moved to the School of Arts and Crafts in the Danish capital where he became architect in 1938, and started teaching in 1946.
In 1940 he joined Arne Jacobsen and Erik Møller in Arhus, to design the furniture for the new Arhus city hall. He started to work with 'minister' cabinetmaker Johannes Hansen in 1940 and showed his first furniture in the famous Hansen store on Bredgade 65 in 1941. Johannes Hansen was more than twice as old as the 26 year old Wegner but the unique collaboration between the two became the undisputed backbone of Danish furniture design and the main reason for it's world wide recognition in the fifties and sixties. The Copenhagen Museum of Art and Industry acquired the first Wegner chair in 1942.
In 1943 he started his own design office and 1 year later designed the first of a long series of 'chinese' chairs inspired by portraits of Danish merchants sitting in Ming chairs for Fritz Hansen. In 1950 Wegner designed the “Wishbone Chair” produced by Carl Hansen & Søn in Odense which became the most successful of all Wegner chairs. Most well known for it’s use by Kennedy and Nixon in their famous CBS TV debate of 1960.