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Icons at The Conran Shop: Wishbone Chair

The timeless CH24 Wishbone Chair demonstrates the ultimate versatile comfort: a synthesis of intricate craftsmanship and signature mid-century design. As a part of our Icons at The Conran Shop series, we take a closer look at this masterful piece that holds a unique position in the history of modern design.

Hans J. Wegner's Wishbone Chair needs no introduction. A bestselling design at The Conran Shop for many years, the chair has been in continual production for over 70 years and has never gone out of fashion. Recognised for its clean lines, elegant shape, and intricately crafted paper cord seat, the sculptural Wishbone allows for freedom of movement and superior comfort, making it ideal for any setting.

Inspired by a portrait of Danish merchants sitting in traditional Ming chairs, the CH24 Wishbone Chair showcases the ergonomic sensibility that defines the antique Chinese chair. Designed in 1949, the classic chair was one of the first pieces made by Wegner specifically for Danish design collective Carl Hansen & Søn, and has been produced by them exclusively since 1950.

From a young age, Hans J. Wegner was a renowned name in the design world. Establishing a reputation as a visionary, Wegner caught the eye of Holger Hansen, Carl Hansen's son, who kept a close eye on the young designer throughout the 1940s. Agreeing to a partnership with the esteemed manufacturer in 1949, Wegner designed the primary iteration of the Wishbone in his first three weeks at the company.

04-JP-CH24
05-JP-CH24

With its gently rounded backrest, the Wishbone allows for freedom of movement and superior comfort. The characteristic 'Y' detail provides back support and stability and inspires the chair's namesake, whilst the top rail is steam-bent to create a singular, fluid curve. The chair's seat is hand-woven from 120 metres of paper cord, which can last up to 50 years. In total, the making of each chair involves over 100 hand-rendered production steps, making it a real labour of love. 

Often imitated but never equalled, the Wishbone is perhaps the most reproduced chair in modern design history, with countless copies flooding the market. However, the UK's 2017 copyright law extended the protection of artistic works from 25 to 70 years after the designer's passing, ensuring that original designs, or 'Works of Artistic Craftsmanship,' receive greater protection from inferior imitation that they deserve. Authentic pieces have the designer's permission and original specification, stamped with the maker's name and serial number on each model to ensure the piece is an authentic, identifiable design that can be passed on through generations.

The Conran Shop's relationship with the iconic Wishbone continues to grow and evolve, as new and original iterations are released every year in partnership with Carl Hansen & Søn, including our exclusive edition in oak and walnut. While exploring its prototype archives, Carl Hansen & Søn came across this rare interpretation of the Wishbone Chair and consulted The Conran Shop, who selected it for exclusive production.

2022 alone has already seen the release of a special edition in April to celebrate Hans J. Wegner's birthday, in elegant teak with an olive tanned leather seat, plus three new hues in collaboration with British designer Ilse Crawford, inspired by the expressionist works of Per Kirkeby and the raw beauty of the Nordic landscape. Six more are expected to launch on a monthly basis, continually breathing new life into the enduring classic design.

Shop Ilse Crawford's Wishbone in Soft today, plus the entire Wishbone archive, to take home a piece of furniture history.