duendepr.com news PP 501, “The Chair” (1949) by Hans Wegner for PP Mobler

PP 501, “The Chair” (1949) by Hans Wegner for PP Mobler

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PP 501 (and PP503 for the upholstered version) by PP Mobler or ‘The Round One’ as Wegner referred to it with his usual provincial modesty, is one of the most famous Danish pieces of furniture – and certainly the most significant and distinct Danish. In it’s own modest and simple way it sums up the very essence of traditional Danish wood working and design philosophy. And it is absolutely the most important work of Hans J. Wegner.
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With this chair Wegner was finally freed from the inspiration from other cultures and designers that influenced his earlier works. This chair was created in a language of shape and construction that only Wegner could speak and it triggered the first ever foreign report of Danish design in the American Interiors Magazine. This chair became the cornerstone of a wide range of designs that for more than a decade was the core business of 6 Danish furniture manufactures thus constituting the main force in the great international breakthrough of Danish Modern.

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When John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon met in the first ever televised election debate in 1960, they sat in The Round Chair. It was chosen mainly for its comfort and genuine quality – made in Denmark and shipped to the USA to play an important role in this historic event. Eventually the Americans came up with a new and more telling name for this chair. They called it ‘The Chair’.

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The Round Chair shows the very essence of Modern Danish Design and its commitment to centuries of experience in wood working. As explained by Wegner: “I have often been asked how we created the Danish Modern style. And I have to say that it was nothing like that – creating… I suppose that it was more an advanced process of purifying, and for me a simplification, cutting the elements down to the bare essentials: four legs, a seat and a combined top rail and arm rest – The Chair.”
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“In this oak desk chair Mr. Wegner uses a simple construction and devotes himself to perfecting the shape and scale of the parts. The top rail, a complicated collection of twisted curves and joints, was wrested into quiet obedience. The sturdy legs are tapered just enough to seem muscular rather than overfed, and the seat dips slightly to look willing but not seductive.” – Interiors Magazine, USA, 1950
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This was the first time that any Danish design was acknowledged by an interior magazine outside of Denmark. The Interiors Magazine featured a 6 pages reportage from the Cabinetmakers Guild Autumn Exhibition in Copenhagen 1949. Though other Danish designers like Finn Juhl where also presented, Wegner got the full attention on 4 out of 6 pages. The Chair had a full page, and as the above quote shows, the Americans immidiately understood the idea of this chair. Paola Antonelli, a former curator of architecture and design at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, paid her own tribute to The Chair in Wegner’s 2007 obituary: “First and foremost, it’s comfortable, and saying that it’s comfortable before saying it’s beautiful is really high praise, because the truth is that it’s incredibly elegant.”

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PP Møbler’s contribution to The Round Chair has been to improve it in several respects, securing optimal quality and an even longer life of The Chair. The wedged tenon “finger” joints in the back is more accurate and well done than ever before, and where as earlier versions of The Round Chair had a dowelled seat frame, today every joint is made with prober tenons to ensure optimal strength and durability. And finally the very characteristic organic shape of the big pieces of genuine solid wood is today consistent with the original idea of Wegner, which has not always been the case, as the level of difficulty in this chair is extraordinary high.

Dimensions : 76 x 44 x 52 cm

Available in oak, ash and cherry.

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PP Mobler Throughout the years, PP Møbler has manufactured several unique pieces of furniture in cooperation with different designers. They are all characterized by exquisit craftmanship and at the same time marked by the overall design vision. Types, styles, form, and material have never limited PP Møbler. The majority of the production consists of Hans J. Wegner’s furniture – mainly chairs – but several other designers have left their mark as well. The latest designs to enter the PP Møbler collection are those of the Danish designer Thomas E. Alken.