Carl Hansen opened his furniture workshop in Odense, Denmark in 1908 and quickly became known for the high quality of his work. The company began producing bespoke furniture but as it grew it began producing a smaller series of its most popular pieces. This combination of hand-craftsmanship and rational series production soon became the firm’s hallmark.
Until the middle of the 1940s, Carl Hansen & Søn cooperated with Frits Henningsen, a Danish architect and cabinetmaker, on designs of tables and chairs (FH419 Heritage chair, FH429 Signature chair). It was Carl Hansen’s son, Holger Hansen, who took a chance on the groundbreaking designs of the young Hans J. Wegner. Holger Hansen’s sales manager, Ejvind Kold Kristensen, kept a close eye on the new breed of Danish furniture designers that began to emerge in the 1940s. Kold Kristensen was especially impressed by Hans J. Wegner, whose designs (CH33, CH24 Wishbone Chair, CH07 Shell lounge chair, CH110 desk, CH825 sideboard, CH322 dining table, ..) won critical acclaim at exhibitions, but was relatively unknown outside of specialist circles.
Kold Kristensen had no doubt that Wegner was a designer who could propel Carl Hansen & Søn into the next level of growth. He approached Wegner In 1949: if Wegner wanted to reach a wider audience, he said, then the designer must move beyond yearly exhibitions and begin cooperation with furniture manufacturers who could bring his design into series production. The collaboration between Hans J. Wegner and Carl Hansen & Søn began shortly thereafter.
Wegner designed four chairs especially for Carl Hansen & Søn in 1949 – all of which came into production and were launched in 1950. Many more were to follow. Holger Hansen, himself a master cabinetmaker as well as a businessman, worked closely with Wegner to adapt the company’s series production to the radically different designs. Among these was the legendary Wishbone Chair which has been produced without interruption ever since.