Style and Comfort

Hans Wegner's Peacock Lounge Chair

Hans Wegner and Johannes Hansen's showroom at the Cabinetmaker's Guild Exhibition, 1953

Hans Wegner designed the original Peacock chair in 1947. Inspired by centuries-old Windsor chairs, Wegner crafted his version with radiating wooden spindles to form an elegant arched back. Concerned with ergonomics and comfort, he flattened the spindles of the chair exactly where the shoulder blades met the backrest, giving it a distinct, feathered look. Recognizing its resemblance to a certain exotic bird, Finn Juhl dubbed the chair “Peacock” and the name has become synonymous with the design ever since. Elaborating on the form, Wegner developed the present design in 1953, an upholstered version with a sumptuous leather crest and padded armrests. The fanned backrest was still reminiscent of a Peacocks tail, and the nickname stuck. The design garnered much acclaim when it was presented at the Cabinetmaker’s Guild Exhibition in 1953, but ultimately due to the complicated construction and expense, only a few examples were ever produced. 

Wegner’s furniture is characterized by a distinctive wholeness and peacefulness...moreover, one should notice the economy of expression which is typical of his work as well as his exceptional understanding of materials.

Erik Wørts, 1953

40 Years of Lost City Arts

Jim Elkind, founder Lost City Arts—of one of the most influential design galleries in New York City—has design in his DNA. Elkind grew up in a modernist house full of mid-century modern furniture and spent many weekends traveling into New York with his mother, visiting museums and exploring the city. He fondly recalls her pointing up at the skyscrapers and their architectural details, encouraging and instilling in him a curiosity about his surroundings and an attention to detail that would go on to shape his future career.

The idea to open a gallery originally came to Elkind during a visit to the annual juried art show at University of Wisconsin, Madison, where he attended college. The vetted show featured several hundred artists, many of whom, he realized, were extremely talented but would never make it into the mainstream art world. Taking a page from his entrepreneur father’s book, Elkind imagined opening a gallery in New York called the Gallery of the Unknown Artist where he would feature work by up-and-coming artists from universities around the country.

Hans J. Wegner

Hans J. Wegner was born in Tønder, Denmark in 1914. As a teenager, Wegner apprenticed with master cabinetmaker H.F. Stahlberg before enrolling at the Danish School of Arts and Crafts in 1936. In 1940, Wegner teamed with Arne Jacobson and Erik Møller to design furniture for the newly built City Hall building in Aarhus, Denmark. In 1943, Wegner opened his own drafting studio. Wegner insisted on the highest standard of craftsmanship for his furniture, and his chairs often feature traditional mortise and tenon joints and unique materials such as paper cord.

Wegner’s famed China series (inspired by the imperial Chinese chairs from the Ming dynasty) was designed in 1949. That same year he introduce what is probably his most iconic seating design, The Chair at the Cabinetmakers Guild exhibition in Copenhagen. In 1951, his chairs were featured in the Museum of Modern Art’s famous Good Design exhibit. His chairs reached a national audience in 1960 when John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon sat in them during the televised presidential debate. In 1971, Wegner was awarded the Diploma di Collaborazione at the Milano Triennale. Wegner created his innovative three-legged stacking chair known as the PP58 in 1988. In 1992, he retired from his firm and his daughter Marianne took over his practice. Wegner died in 2007.

In 2014, the Design Museum of Denmark honored Wegner with a retrospective of his work. Wegner’s furniture designs are held in the collections across the globe and can be found in the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Victoria and Albert in London, and the Vitra Design Museum in Germany, among many others.

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Auction Results Hans J. Wegner