Carl Hansen & Son juxtapose the classic and the contemporary

On Friday, I had the opportunity to sit in two very different chairs that have a similar heart.

Carl Hansen & Son invited Contract to a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Shell Chair, designed by Hans J. Wegner in 1963. The unique silhouette of the shell chair has stood the test of time, with its swooping wide seat that looks intriguing from all angles.


Attendees view the new Shell Chair designs at the 50th anniversary party in the Carl Hansen & Son showroom in NYC. Photo by Cody Calamaio.

I had the opportunity to chat with Carl Hansen & Son CEO Knud Erik Hansen, who told me that it took more than 30 years for the Shell Chair to really take off. Now, the chair is considered a classic, and it has been rebooted for its 50th anniversary. A partnership between Carl Hansen & Son and Maharam launched twenty new Shell Chairs, each with a different Maharam Textile and coordinating wood frame.



“Firm” by Sarah Morris


“Massive Paisley”

The Maharam textiles featured in the collection include re-editioned designs of the Wiener Werkstätte and Alexander Girard, and collaborations with Hella Jongerius and Paul Smith. Maharam itself is also undergoing a bit of a reboot, as it was recently acquired by the furniture company Herman Miller.


“Deconstructed rose”


“Park” by Hella Jongerius


Also on display at the event was the Dream Chair, a lounge chair designed by acclaimed Japanese architect Tadao Ando in partnership with Carl Hansen & Son. Ando created the gravity-deifying chair as a tribute to Hans J. Wegner, a designer he has respected for years. Ando has incorporated many of Wegner’s furniture designs into his architecture projects.


Tadao Ando’s Dream Chair. Photo courtesy of Carl Hansen & Son

What is incredible about the Dream Chair is that the extreme curve of its base is made entirely of wood, without any steel to support it. The chair is a true engineering marvel that pushes the boundaries of what it is possible to do with plywood.

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