Dictionary of Nordic design: Carl Hansen & Søn

Carl Hansen & Søn is probably best known for the CH24 chair designed by Hans J. Wegner, which also goes by the name Wishbone. Discover with us the history of the beloved brand and its iconic and poetic products, essential examples of Danish design.

An image featuring Carl Hansen & Søn's Wishbone chairs around the table as part of the dining room interior.
Carl Hansen & Søn is a Danish company first founded in 1908, known for its high-quality wooden furniture and traditional methods.

CARL HANSEN & SØN is a family business that has grown around uncompromised passion and dedication, whose classic wooden furniture has left an impressive imprint on the history of Scandinavian design. The company, which has been in operation for more than 100 years, was founded in 1908, when Danish cabinetmaker Carl Hansen started crafting bespoke furniture in a small workshop in Odense, Denmark, on the island of Fyn.

Hansen manufactured and perfected all products carefully by hand, laying the foundation for a company that would become known worldwide for its quality and traditional methods.

An old, black-and-white photo of an artisan hand-weaving the seat of Carl Hansen & Søn's CH25 chair.
From the beginning, Carl Hansen & Søn's principles have included valuing craftsmanship and traditional methods. In this archive image from decades ago, a seat of the CH25 chair is being – by hand, just like today.
An image featuring Carl Hansen & Søn's CH25 armchair as part of the bedroom interior.
Carl Hansen & Søn’s CH25 lounge chair, designed by Hans J. Wegner, was first introduced in 1950. At the time, the refined lounge chair was considered completely revolutionary because of its paper cord seat.
A close-up image showing the details of Carl Hansen & Søn's CH25 chair .
It takes up to 400 meters of paper cord and 10 hours of work to craft the back and seat of the CH25 chair.

The year 1949 is particularly brightly highlighted in Carl Hansen & Søn's history. At that time, Holger Hansen, Carl Hansen's son and the then CEO and owner of the company, met architect and designer Hans J. Wegner and invited him to Odense to discuss a possible collaboration.

Wegner spent three weeks intensely working in Odense, and during that time he produced the test pieces for four chairs he had designed between 1943 and 1945, which today are also known as The First Masterpieces.

An image featuring four Carl Hansen & Søn chairs showcased in an empty apartment.
Hans J. Wegner's collection of chairs also known as The First Masterpieces includes chairs CH22, CH23, CH24 or Wishbone, and CH25.
Black and white portrait of designer Hans J. Wegner.
Hans J. Wegner (1914–2007) is a world-renowned Danish designer and architect, who is especially known for his unrivaled skill in designing chairs. Read more about his life and career in the book Hans J. Wegner: Just One Good Chair.

The First Masterpieces

Chairs CH22, CH23, CH24, and CH25 – also known as The First Masterpieces – designed by Hans J. Wegner in the 1940s are each prime examples of Wegner's unique ability to create thoughtful, practical, and yet thoroughly poetic pieces from wood. The innovative chairs were immediately put into production, and they became trendsetters for the entire visual aesthetics of Carl Hansen & Søn.

However, one of the masterpieces is perhaps even more famous than the others. The iconic CH24 or Wishbone chair is one of the most loved and admired classics of Danish design, and has been in continuous production since 1950.

Mustavalkoinen arkistokuva, jossa varastossa pinoittain Carl Hansen & Sønin Wishbone-tuoleja.
The Wishbone chair has been in continuous production since the 1950s.
Lähikuva Carl Hansen & Sønin Wishbone-tuolin yksityiskohdista.
The CH24 chair also goes by the name Wishbone. The chair gets its nickname from the Y-shaped support part, which resembles a wishbone.
The production of the Wishbone chair involves more than 100 steps, the vast majority of which are still carried out by hand – giving each chair its own, unique personality.
An image featuring Carl Hansen & Søn's CH24 or Wishbone chair as part of the dining room decor.
Elegant down to the last detail and incomparable in terms of seat comfort, the Wishbone chair is a true classic that will stand the test of time in terms of both its design and quality.

Wishbone chair

  • Hans J. Wegner designed the CH24 chair, or Wishbone chair, in the 1940s.
  • The Wishbone chair gets its name from the Y-shaped support part – a part resembling a wishbone.
  • The manufacturing process of the Wishbone chair includes more than 100 steps, most of which are still carried out by hand.
  • 120 meters of high-quality paper cord is used for the hand-woven seat.
  • In 2022, designer Ilse Crawford created nine new colors for the series, drawing inspiration from Per Kirkeby's expressionist paintings and Nordic nature.
  • There are currently 17 different finishes available at Finnish Design Shop. View all Wishbone chairs.

An image featuring of two people crafting Carl Hansen & Søn's CH23 chair by hand,
The simple yet stunning CH23 chair also features a paper cord seat, handmade by skilled artisans.
An image featuring Carl Hansen & Søn's CH23 chair in a carpentry workshop,
Carl Hansen & Søn's carefully finished products are timeless classics, made to last from generation to generation.

Made with meaning

The fruitful, decades-long collaboration with Hans J. Wegner made Carl Hansen & Søn a global icon and also strengthened the foothold of Danish modernism worldwide – as well as subsequent collaborations with other design legends of the mid-20th century, such as Arne Jacobsen, Børge Mogensen, Ole Wanscher, and Kaare Klint, also considered the father of Danish modernism.

“Timeless beauty, comfort, craftsmanship, and sustainability are so deeply ingrained in all our furniture works that only sight and touch are required to understand and fall in love with them.”

- Knud Erik Hansen

Carl Hansen & Søn's mission is literally tangible in its products: the unique works of art are not just everyday essentials but are also deeply rooted in traditions, principles, and heritage.

Love for design is present in all of Carl Hansen & Søn's thoughtfully created furniture, where nothing is left to chance – the products and their stories are made to last and passed from generation to generation, just like the company itself.

Carl Hansen & Søn

  • Founded in 1908 in Odense, Denmark.
  • The current owner and CEO of the company is Knud Erik Hansen, Carl Hansen's grandson.
  • One of Carl Hansen & Søn's most famous products is the CH24 chair, or Wishbone, designed by Hans J. Wegner.
  • Carl Hansen & Søn is known for its long association with designer and architect Hans J. Wegner, but the brand has also collaborated with Arne Jacobsen, Kaare Klint, and Børge Mogensen, among others.
  • Although the company has grown exponentially since the early days, a majority of the products are still made on the island of Fyn in Denmark – mostly by hand.

Favorites from Carl Hansen & Søn

CH24 Wishbone chair
CH337 dining table
CH07 Shell lounge chair
CH23 chair
BM4570 chair
BM0488S Table Bench
BM1106 Huntsman chair
BM1160 Huntsman dining table
OW149 Colonial lounge chair
OW449 Colonial coffee table
OW58 T-chair
OW149F Colonial footstool

See also:

All products by Carl Hansen & Søn >
All products by Hans J. Wegner >
Hans J. Wegner: Just One Good Chair  >

Text: Mira Ahola Images: Carl Hansen & Søn

Previous story
Next story

Sign up to Finnish Design Shop’s newsletter and enter a monthly gift card prize draw!

Sign up

For the love of design

Design Stories is Finnish Design Shop's own online magazine, that takes you to beautiful Nordic homes, introduces new products and beloved icons – and much more!

Go to the Design Stories front page

Shop Nordic design

Design Stories is provided by Finnish Design Shop, the world’s largest online store specialized in Nordic design.

Discover our selection

Buy & sell authentic vintage

Franckly.com is a curated online marketplace for pre-owned design maintained by Finnish Design Shop.

Find treasures at Franckly