What Makes a Great Chair?

Published: March 3rd, 2015

If you want to know what makes for a truly great chair, there was probably no better expert than Hans Wegner, a driving force of the Danish Modern movement who designed over 500 chairs, 100 of which were mass produced.  One of his most successful examples, perhaps one of the most comfortable chairs ever made, is the Papa Bear Chair,  created in 1951, produced up until 1969, and then relaunched by PP Mobler of Denmark in 2003.

What Makes a Great Chair?

Hans Wegner's Papa Bear Chair and Ottoman
Hans Wegner’s Papa Bear Chair and Ottoman
Hans Wegner's Papa Bear Chair
Hans Wegner’s Papa Bear Chair

Hans Wegner Papa Bear Chair

There may be many reasons why this chair has achieved icon status.  Beyond its great comfort and support, the sculptural armrests conform gracefully to the human form, making the chair particularly inviting.  It just wants to embrace you.  The exposed wood on the arms and legs add a classic touch.

Reflecting the clean lines, purity of materials, and human proportions characteristic of the Danish Modern movement and the German bauhaus movement that informed it, Wegner’s designs became works of art.  “A chair is to have no backside,” he declared. “ It should be beautiful from all sides and angles.”

And so it is!  Wegner’s artistry continues to inspire contemporary furniture design.  Take a look at some of these examples:

best chair minotti aston
Minotti Aston Chair

 

swedish library chair
Swedish Library Chair

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These sleek and sexy curves are especially popular now, often adding a sculptural counterpoint to more hard-edged modern spaces. Here’s a Lorae Lounge Chair by Bright Company that we used in a modern high-rise.  It’s the perfect balance of comfort and style that Wegner imbued in his work:

comfortable chairs interior design
Mitchell Channon Design

 

  I have the armchair version of this in my own home and love it!

bright chair lorae
Bright Chair Lorae

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now, if you want to find the original Papa Bear chair, we found a restored one for sale on 1st Dibs. Check it out here.

In the meantime, thank visionaries like Wegner for giving us form AND function!  Perfect!!