Carl Hansen opened his furniture workshop in Odense, Denmark in 1908 and soon became known for the high quality of his work. In the early days, the company produced bespoke furniture – including everything from dining room sets to bedroom suites. As the company grew and times changed, however, it gradually began to produce smaller series of its most popular pieces. This combination of hand craftsmanship and rational series production soon became the firm’s hallmark – and continues to set it apart today.
Until the middle of the 1940s Carl Hansen & Son 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 & Son 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 & Son began shortly thereafter.
Wegner designed four chairs especially for Carl Hansen & Son 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.
Ther have been many successful partnerships between Carl Hansen and Son with new designers since, such as Morten Gøttler (MG501 Cuba folding lounge chair).