'The Round One' as Wegner referred to it with his usual provincial modesty, is one of the most famous Danish pieces of furniture - certainly the most distinctly Danish. In its own modest and simple way it sums up the very essence of traditional Danish woodworking and design philosophy. And it is absolutely the most important work of Hans J. Wegner.
With this chair Wegner came into his own right, no longer needing the inspiration from other cultures and designers that had influenced his earlier works. This chair was created in a language of shape and construction that only Wegner spoke and it triggered the first ever, foreign report on Danish design in the American Interiors Magazine. It also became the cornerstone in a wide range of designs, which for more than a decade constituted the core business of several Danish furniture manufacturers, effectively becoming the main force in the great international breakthrough of Danish Modern.
When John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon met in the first ever, televised election debate in 1960, they sat in the Round Chair. It was chosen mainly for its comfort and genuine quality - made in Denmark and shipped to the USA to play an important role in this historic event. Eventually the Americans came up with a new and more telling name for this chair. They called it 'The Chair'.
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.