Late 20th Century Danish Mid-Century Modern Lounge Chairs
Oak, Walnut, Leather
Wegner Ch26 For Sale on 1stDibs
How Much is a Wegner Ch26?
Hans J. Wegner for sale on 1stDibs
Best known for his chairs and seating pieces — though a master of many furniture types like sofas and tables — Hans Wegner was a prolific designer whose elegant, often ebullient, forms and devotion to the finest methods in joinery made "Danish Modern" a popular byword for stylish, well-made furniture in the mid-20th century.
Wegner considered himself a carpenter first and a furniture designer second. Like his peers Arne Jacobsen and Finn Juhl, Wegner believed that striking aesthetics in furniture were based on a foundation of practicality: a chair must be comfortable and sturdy before it is chic.
In keeping with that tenet, several of Wegner’s best chair designs, seen in dealer listings below, have their roots in traditional seating forms. The Peacock chair (designed in 1947) is a throne-like adaptation of the Windsor chair; pieces from the China chair series (begun in 1944) as well as the 1949 Wishbone chair, with its distinctive Y-shaped back splat, are derived from 17th-century Ming seating pieces, as is the upholstered Ox chair (1960). Wegner’s comfy Papa Bear chair (1951) is an almost surreally re-scaled English wingback chair.
Wegner’s most representative piece, the Round chair (1949), gained a footnote in political history when it was used on the TV stage of the first Kennedy-Nixon debate of 1960. That chair, along with Wegner’s more bravura designs, for example the 1963 Shell chair, with its curved surfboard-shaped seat, bring a quietly sculptural presence to a room. Wegner was a designer who revered his primary material — wood — and it shows. His wood gathers patina and character with age; every Hans Wegner piece testifies to the life it has led.
A Close Look at mid-century-modern Furniture
Organically shaped, clean-lined and elegantly simple are three terms that well describe vintage mid-century modern furniture. The style, which emerged primarily in the years following World War II, is characterized by pieces that were conceived and made in an energetic, optimistic spirit by creators who believed that good design was an essential part of good living.
ORIGINS OF MID-CENTURY MODERN FURNITURE DESIGN
- Emerged during the mid-20th century
- Informed by European modernism, Bauhaus, International style, Scandinavian modernism and Frank Lloyd Wright’s architecture
- A heyday of innovation in postwar America
- Experimentation with new ideas, new materials and new forms flourished in Scandinavia, Italy, the former Czechoslovakia and elsewhere in Europe
CHARACTERISTICS OF MID-CENTURY MODERN FURNITURE DESIGN
- Simplicity, organic forms, clean lines
- A blend of neutral and bold Pop art colors
- Use of natural and man-made materials — alluring woods such as teak, rosewood and oak; steel, fiberglass and molded plywood
- Light-filled spaces with colorful upholstery
- Glass walls and an emphasis on the outdoors
- Promotion of functionality
MID-CENTURY MODERN FURNITURE DESIGNERS TO KNOW
- Charles and Ray Eames
- Eero Saarinen
- Milo Baughman
- Florence Knoll
- Harry Bertoia
- Isamu Noguchi
- George Nelson
- Danish modernists Hans Wegner and Arne Jacobsen, whose emphasis on natural materials and craftsmanship influenced American designers and vice versa
ICONIC MID-CENTURY MODERN FURNITURE DESIGNS
- Eames lounge chair
- Nelson daybed
- Florence Knoll sofa
- Egg chair
- Womb chair
- Noguchi coffee table
- Barcelona chair
VINTAGE MID-CENTURY MODERN FURNITURE ON 1STDIBS
The mid-century modern era saw leagues of postwar American architects and designers animated by new ideas and new technology. The lean, functionalist International-style architecture of Le Corbusier and Bauhaus eminences Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Walter Gropius had been promoted in the United States during the 1930s by Philip Johnson and others. New building techniques, such as “post-and-beam” construction, allowed the International-style schemes to be realized on a small scale in open-plan houses with long walls of glass.
Materials developed for wartime use became available for domestic goods and were incorporated into mid-century modern furniture designs. Charles and Ray Eames and Eero Saarinen, who had experimented extensively with molded plywood, eagerly embraced fiberglass for pieces such as the La Chaise and the Womb chair, respectively.
Architect, writer and designer George Nelson created with his team shades for the Bubble lamp using a new translucent polymer skin and, as design director at Herman Miller, recruited the Eameses, Alexander Girard and others for projects at the legendary Michigan furniture manufacturer.
Harry Bertoia and Isamu Noguchi devised chairs and tables built of wire mesh and wire struts. Materials were repurposed too: The Danish-born designer Jens Risom created a line of chairs using surplus parachute straps for webbed seats and backrests.
The Risom lounge chair was among the first pieces of furniture commissioned and produced by legendary manufacturer Knoll, a chief influencer in the rise of modern design in the United States, thanks to the work of Florence Knoll, the pioneering architect and designer who made the firm a leader in its field. The seating that Knoll created for office spaces — as well as pieces designed by Florence initially for commercial clients — soon became desirable for the home.
As the demand for casual, uncluttered furnishings grew, more mid-century furniture designers caught the spirit.
Classically oriented creators such as Edward Wormley, house designer for Dunbar Inc., offered such pieces as the sinuous Listen to Me chaise; the British expatriate T.H. Robsjohn-Gibbings switched gears, creating items such as the tiered, biomorphic Mesa table. There were Young Turks such as Paul McCobb, who designed holistic groups of sleek, blond wood furniture, and Milo Baughman, who espoused a West Coast aesthetic in minimalist teak dining tables and lushly upholstered chairs and sofas with angular steel frames.
As the collection of vintage mid-century modern chairs, dressers, coffee tables and other furniture for the living room, dining room, bedroom and elsewhere on 1stDibs demonstrates, this period saw one of the most delightful and dramatic flowerings of creativity in design history.
Finding the Right lounge-chairs for You
Although there are rare armchairs dating back as far as the 17th century, some believe that the origins of the first official “lounge chair” are tied to Hungarian modernist designer-architect Marcel Breuer. Sure, Breuer wasn’t exactly reinventing the wheel when he introduced the Wassily lounge chair in 1925, but his seat was indeed revolutionary for its integration of bent tubular steel.
Officially, a lounge chair is simply defined as a “comfortable armchair,” which allows for the shape and material of the furnishings to be extremely diverse. Whether or not chaise longues make the cut for this category is a matter of frequent debate.
The Eames lounge chair, on the other hand, has come to define somewhat of a universal perception of what a lounge chair can be. Introduced in 1956, the Eames lounger (and its partner in cozy, the ottoman) quickly became staples in television shows, prestigious office buildings and sumptuous living rooms. Venerable American mid-century modern designers Charles and Ray Eames intended for it to be the peak of luxury, which they knew meant taking furniture to the next level of style and comfort. Their chair inspired many modern interpretations of the lounge — as well as numerous copies.
On 1stDibs, find a broad range of unique lounge chairs that includes everything from antique Victorian-era seating to vintage mid-century modern lounge chairs by craftspersons such as Hans Wegner to contemporary choices from today’s innovative designers.