The Swivel Chair is an uncompromising tool with comfort and ergonomics as overriding considerations. In actual fact, it is a continuation of pp501/pp503 The Chair, which marked a turning point, not just for Wegner but also for Danish Design in general. The top bar, made of solid wood and twisted like a propeller, is separated from the remaining frame and completed at the very limit of what is possible for full ergonomic advantage.
Wegner was inspired by Consultant, Professor and Doctor of Medicine & PhD Egill Snorrasonâ€™s critique, which was aimed at the entire Danish design and furniture trade for not paying enough attention to ergonomics. In his critique, however, Snorrason had actually pointed out that Wegnerâ€™s Cow Horn Chair was in fact an ergonomically correct exception to the rule, and the two passionate professionals engaged in a dialogue, which resulted in the Swivel Chair with a large piece of solid wood to support the lower back.
Like numerous other Wegner designs, the Swivel Chair was to be produced by Danish craftsmen with not a second thought for cost-minimising industrial production. It presents huge challenges for the joiner, the upholsterer and the blacksmith, as it demands time-consuming work that must not be compromised in any way. Wegner himself expressed it thus, â€˜Itâ€™s for the boss â€¦ or the secretary. No, itâ€™s too expensive for the secretary. Itâ€™s for the boss who will appreciate being able to sit correctly in a chairâ€™.
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.