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Photo: Jens Mourits Sørensen

Photo: Jens Mourits Sørensen

pp502, 1955

The Swivel Chair from 1955 constitutes a cross between the hard steel frame and the soft wood and leather. It is an uncompromising tool with comfort and ergonomics as overriding considerations.

In actual fact it is a continuation of the Round Chair, also known as 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 Eigill Snorrason’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 Wegner’s Cow Horn Chair, which had the same backrest as the Round 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 as support for 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-minimizing 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, ‘It’s for the boss … or the secretary. No, it’s too expensive for the secretary. It’s for the boss who will appreciate being able to sit correctly in a chair’.
The combined arm- and backrest, also called a top bar, is made from solid wood. The different pieces have been cut from newly felled trees that must be at least 150 years old in order to have the right size. The wood is then cut into thick planks of three, four and five inches before being driven to PP Møbler’s workshop where it is cut into rough shapes and numbered, enabling the pieces to be assembled correctly at a later stage. Then the wood is left to dry for a year to a year and a half, in a highly controlled environment until the humidity is down to no more than six per cent.

The joints and the rough forms are cut by machine, while gluing the pieces together as well as the final shaping demands time-consuming craftsmanship. A spoke shave, rasp and sandpaper are used to shape the top bar and it takes an experienced joiner approx. one day to finish the job.

The frame is made from stainless steel and a skilled craftsman is needed to perform every bow and welding as well as the final polish. Stainless steel is a very demanding material to work with and every little detail needs complete attention, both in terms of strength and appearance. The frame includes an adjustment mechanism enabling the user to adjust the height of the chair.

Only the finest leather is used for upholstering the seat.
HANS J. WEGNER

Materials
For guidance only. Wood varies in colour and structure.

Soaptreated

Oak
Ash

Oil treated

Oak
Ash
Cherry

Lacquered

Oak
Ash
Cherry
Lineart
Chairs
Collection
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