The CH20 Chair, commonly known as the Elbow Chair, perfectly embodies the principles of Scandinavian design. It is simple, appealing, functional and made of sustainable resources. Therefore, the Elbow Chair became an archetype of Nordic furniture.
The chair’s design was conceived by Hans J. Wegner – a legendary figure in Danish Modernism and a famous furniture designer, who had a great passion for chairs; thus his nickname “the Master of the Chair”. The first prototype of the Elbow Chair was presented in 1956. The chair’s minimalistic appearance may mislead into thinking that it is relatively easy to manufacture, which is very far from truth. The Elbow Chair is yet another proof that Hans J. Wegner was way ahead of his time when it comes to the wooden furniture design. The sophisticated design of the Elbow Chair made it impossible, with the technology available in the 1950’s, to manufacture more than one prototype. The CH20 followed the same path as its younger sibling, the CH07 Shell Chair, as almost half a century had passed before it went into mass production. The Carl Hansen & Son furniture company breathed new life into Wegner’s creation and made it commercially available in 2005.
The design of the Elbow Chair was refined down to essentials making the form of the chair very minimalistic and pure. The principle purpose of the Elbow Chair was to provide comfortable dining seating. The chair stands on four, cylindrical wooden legs. The front legs are slightly tapered at the bottom and rounded at the top, in order to avoid sharp corners. The back legs, which also serve as a fixture for a backrest, are tapered at both ends. The legs are spanned together with bent wooden slats, which create a base of the chair in a shape of a square with concave sides. The base provides support for a bent seat pan, which seems to float above the legs. It is manufactured from 11-ply veneer laminate, which is compression molded into desired shape. A thin layer of cold cure foam on the top of the seat pan gives the chair more comfortable feel. The seat is available upholstered in fabric or supple leather. Perhaps the most distinctive feature of the Elbow Chair is its famous backrest. It is steam bent from one, solid piece of wood into its characteristic rounded shape, which sticks far enough, allowing for support for the arms (thereby the name of the chair). Wegner’s smart design of the CH20 allows to stack up to 4 chairs upon one another, adding to the functionality of the chair. However, prolonged periods of stacking may deform the upholstery. For this reason, it is not recommended. The chair is available in various configurations of wood finishes and upholstery variants.
The chair was awarded the ICFF (International Contemporary Furniture Fair) Editors’ Award in New York in 2005.
Hans J. Wegner is probably the world’s most productive furniture designer. Wegner is responsible for more than 500 projects of chairs, a lot of which were later mass-produced. His passion for chairs is particularly well depicted by the following quote: “The chair is the item closest to people’s hearts. It can be given a personal expression.”