The ICON | CH24 Wishbone Chair

  • WORDS Stephen Crafti
  • est-living-ch24-chair-hans-wegner.01

    In the fifth instalment of our ICON series, we’re celebrating 110 years of the CH24 Wishbone Chair designed by Hans J. Wegner for Carl Hansen & Son.

    The backrest resembles a wishbone, but designer Hans J. Wegner was looking at Ming chairs from China when he created his series of round and relatively light chairs from 1944. His first, released that year, is called the Chinese Chair, which he later followed with the Peacock Chair (circa 1947), the Stacking Chair (circa 1949) and the Classic Chair (circa 1949). However, it’s the Wishbone Chair, released in 1950 and sometimes referred to the Y-Chair that is regarded as Wegner’s most commercially successful design.

    Produced in partnership with Cult Design.

    Trained as a cabinetmaker before attending the Copenhagen School of Arts and Crafts, Wegner often collaborated with other designers such as Borge Morgensen. Wegner’s Wishbone Chair, unlike many other chairs that have their ‘moment in the sun’ and then disappear, has been in continual production since 1950 when it was first released on the market. Commissioned by Carl Hansen & Son, the Wishbone Chair champions modernism, craftsmanship and Nordic functionality. And because of its lightness and generous paper rattan seat, is often used as a dining chair.

    The chair’s elegant and tapered limbs also make it a popular choice in a main bedroom or an entrance, ideal for leaving one’s coat upon arrival. Popular with architects and designers, it was also the chair of choice when it was broadcast to millions of television viewers watching the presidential debate in America in 1961, between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon. Although Wegner’s name is synonymous with chairs, he also designed lighting and cabinets as well as over 100 chairs in his lifetime. His enormous output earned him the Grand Prix at Milan’s Triennial in 1950.

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    Old Mews House by Norm Architects | Photography by Jonas Bjerre-Poulsen.

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    Photography courtesy of Carl Hansen + Son

    Interior designer Caroline Casey, co-director of Casey Brown Architecture, has designed everything from screens, tables and sofas to entire interiors. However, in the decades since Casey began, she has never designed a chair. “It’s not just that there are already so many chairs out there, they are extremely difficult to design let alone manufacture here,” says Casey.

    She has also seen over the years the rejection pile for many designers who focus on chairs, remaining as prototypes on studio shelves. Although Casey feels there are enough chairs on the market, she was pleased that Wegner produced the Wishbone Chair. “We (architect Rob Brown is her life and business partner) were one of the first to buy the Wishbone when it first arrived in Australia, at least 20 years ago. We initially bought them for our office (the couple’s practice) but took them home (located on Sydney’s northern beaches) when the children were old enough to sit up in them,” says Casey.

    The Wishbone chairs, all eight of them, frame the dining table designed by Casey in collaboration with Jeffrey Broadfield who works with Casey Brown on a number of its bespoke homes. “The Wishbone chairs create a certain ‘rhythm’ lined up against a rectilinear table. And they’re so beautifully made,” says Casey, pointing out the various joints and sinuous lines. “They’re also incredibly comfortable. You’re not restricted in any way. And they’re sculptural, perfect just on their own.”

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    Photography courtesy of Carl Hansen + Son

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    Photography courtesy of Carl Hansen + Son

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    Photography courtesy of Cult

  • hans j. wegner's iconic designs

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