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Shell Chair
Iconic Designs

Shell Chair

About the Design

Also known as the “smiling chair,” the Three-Legged Shell chair — now merely called the Shell — is an example of Hans J. Wegner’s rare forays into plywood. The pioneering Danish furniture maker, whose works of Scandinavian modernism are among the most celebrated designs in the world, much preferred solid wood, a material with which he had extensive experience. 

Wegner (1914–2007) was the son of a cobbler and apprenticed to a cabinetmaker for much of his youth. He went on to study at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts (then the Danish School of Arts and Crafts) and then worked as a designer for Erik Møller and Arne Jacobsen in the 1940s before opening his own studio. Chairs became Wegner’s specialty, and over the years he designed over 500 of them. More than 100 of his designs, such as the Wishbone chair and the Papa Bear chair, went into production.

In terms of both process and aesthetics, the Shell chair was ahead of its time when it was introduced in 1963. The expressive seat and back are made out of form-pressed oak or walnut laminates and topped with upholstered cushions for maximum comfort. Wegner made scale models to test various leg configurations and eventually landed on the tapered three-leg structure that gives the chair a feeling of lightness. Nevertheless, the structure is very stable, featuring two front legs made of one continuous piece and a separate hind leg that supports the backrest.

Often described as being “wing-like,” the chair’s radical fluid lines were considered a bit too futuristic when the chair was first introduced during the 1963 Furniture Guild Exhibition in Copenhagen. Initially, mixed reviews from critics as well as the general public along with production difficulties resulted in a very limited early run. Twelve new models were produced for a retrospective exhibition celebrating Wegner’s 77th birthday in 1989, and the design began garnering renewed attention — a photograph of the chair was even selected to grace the cover of the exhibition catalog.

In 1998, nearly a decade following the piece’s reemergence at the retrospective event, Carl Hansen & Søn reintroduced the Shell chair 35 years after it was first released and it has felt relevant ever since. Sculptural and sleek — and “beautiful from all sides and angles,” as Wegner intended for his seating — the Shell chair makes an immediate statement in any interior.

Shell Chair

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Hans Wegner Molded Walnut Plywood Shell Chair
By Hans J. Wegner
Located in Philadelphia, PA
Hans Wegner molded walnut plywood shell chair model CH07. Design dates to 1963, reintroduced in the late 1990's. This model dates to 2006 and leather shows appropriate wear. Would be...
Category

Early 2000s Danish Mid-Century Modern Lounge Chairs

Materials

Leather, Walnut

Iconic 20th Century Hans Wegner Lacquer and Leather Shell Chair
By Carl Hansen & Søn, Hans J. Wegner
Located in Houston, TX
Iconic 20th Century Hans Wegner Cream Lacquer And Leather Shell Chair. This Stunning Hans Wegner Designed Shell Lounge Chair Manufactured By Carl Hansen And Son, Denmark Has Been Pro...
Category

20th Century Danish Mid-Century Modern Lounge Chairs

Materials

Leather, Wood

CH07 Shell Chair in Walnut Oil with Leather Seat by Hans J. Wegner
By Hans J. Wegner, Carl Hansen & Søn
Located in Farmingdale, NJ
When Hans J. Wegner unveiled the design of the CH07 Shell chair in 1963, many critics loved the Avant Garde look, but the general public was reluctant to accept its distinctive expre...
Category

21st Century and Contemporary Danish Modern Chairs

Materials

Wood, Leather

Hans Wegner Shell Easy Chair Model 1936 Produced by Fritz Hansen in Denmark
By Hans J. Wegner
Located in Malmo, SE
Rare shell easy chair model 1936 designed by Hans Wegner. Produced by Fritz Hansen in Denmark.
Category

Vintage 1950s Danish Scandinavian Modern Lounge Chairs

Materials

Teak, Fabric, Beech

Hans Wegner Shell Sofa Model 1935 Produced by Fritz Hansen in Denmark
By Hans J. Wegner
Located in Malmo, SE
Rare shell sofa model 1935 designed by Hans Wegner. Produced by Fritz Hansen in Denmark.
Category

Vintage 1950s Danish Scandinavian Modern Sofas

Materials

Fabric, Beech, Teak

Shell Chair by Hans Wegner in Walnut and Beech
By Hans J. Wegner
Located in North Hollywood, CA
Shell chair by Hans Wegner in laminated walnut seat and back and solid beech wood frame. It has the original screws on the bottom of seat to secure the seat cushion.
Category

Vintage 1950s Danish Mid-Century Modern Lounge Chairs

Materials

Beech, Walnut

CH07 Shell Chair in Walnut Oil with Upholstered Seat by Hans J. Wegner
By Carl Hansen & Søn, Hans J. Wegner
Located in Farmingdale, NJ
When Hans J. Wegner unveiled the design of the CH07 shell chair in 1963, many critics loved the avant-garde look, but the general public was reluctant to accept its distinctive expre...
Category

21st Century and Contemporary Danish Modern Chairs

Materials

Wood, Canvas

Vintage Shell Chair by Hans J. Wegner, Designed in 1963
By Hans J. Wegner
Located in Lejre, DK
The CH07, also known as the "Shell Chair", is one of the most original chairs by the Danish designer Hans Wegner (1914-2007). Created in 1963, the three-legged chair CH07 is a sculpt...
Category

Vintage 1960s Danish Mid-Century Modern Lounge Chairs

Materials

Oak

Shell Chair by Hans J. Wegner
By Hans J. Wegner
Located in Sagaponack, NY
A laminated orange lacquered "shell" lounge chair with upholstered seat and back.
Category

Vintage 1960s Danish Scandinavian Modern Lounge Chairs

Materials

Upholstery, Wood

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