The greatest chair ever made
Which is the best and most beautiful chair in the world? Many would argue that the armchair, known as JH-501/503, ‘The round chair’ or simply ‘The chair’, by chair maker extraordinaire Hans J Wegner have a strong claim at that title.
This chair have all the qualities that make Scandinavian furniture design great and it is probably the single most important piece of furniture of it's time. At the cabinetmakers guild in 1949 Hans J Wegner, as always (1940-1966) exhibiting with cabinetmaker Johannes Hansen, presented the model JH-501/503 or 'the round chair'. Even in 1949, great things were expected from the Wegner design studio and this chair certainly meets the expectations. The critics loved it and deemed it an instant classic.
To make things even better American Interiors magazine featured the round chair on the cover and called it 'the World's most beautiful chair’. Apart from making the Round chair into an
international star over night. This also catapulted Wegner and the concept of Danish design into international fame. From now on, the Round chair became known simply as ‘the chair’. It's most
famous appearance came with the televised 1961 presidential debates between Richard Nixon and John F Kennedy. For this debate JFK, who was suffering from a bad back, requested specially to use
The chair is designed to allow the user to move around, change positions and to keep the blood flowing while seated. As many of Wegner's designs, the chair is made from solid pieces of wood. Wegner argues that using bentwood would lose the beauty of the inherent properties of the wood. Of the design Wegner himself have said,
-“many foreigners have asked me how we made the Danish style. And I've answered that it...was rather a continuous process of purification, and for me, of simplification, to cut down to the
simplest possible elements of four legs, a seat and combined top rail and arm rest.", and, -"The chair does not exist. The good chair is a task one is never completely done with."
The chair has been in continuous production since 1949, from either Johs. Hansen or PP-Möbler (from 1990), available in Oak, Teak, Ash, Mahogany and Cherry (rumour has it that a very limited number has been made as a custom order in Rosewood) with seat in rattan or upholstered in leather or fabric. Despite its popularity, only 200-300 pieces are made every year and an estimated 20,000 total in the 60 years of production. Quality does come at a price and the chair is not cheap. However, you need to consider it a lifetime investment; ‘the chair’ will most probably outlast you, and live on in your family for generations to come.
The chair is still the obvious choice for all sorts of official events f.ex the Danish royal family use it regularly and it was recently used at the Copenhagen climate meeting. ‘The chair’ is a given piece of furniture in museum collections all over the world and is even featured on Danish Stamps.