If you're reading this article, five will get you ten that when you see the words, "Papa Bear" you don't think "Goldilocks" but of the legendary designer Hans Wegner whose iconic chairs are enduring classics of mid-century design. It has been said that a building skyscraper is almost easier to create than a Wegner chair, the latter being so challenging because it must blend the formal rigor of a sculptural work of art with the demands of a highly functioning ergonomic device. This is why Wegner chairs, like their maker, come imbued with personality.
Among Wegner's most celebrated and certainly most distinctive pieces is his Flag Halyard Chair, designed in 1950 and inspired by a family holiday to the beach at Arhus, Denmark during which Wegner playfully carved out its design in the sand.
RubyLUX dealer, Richard Rooze of Oljos, a unique gallery in the Netherlands, is the proud possessor of a rare Flag Halyard Chair — in perfect, restored condition — and not unlike the iconic chair, Rooze's Flag Halyard came to him with a personal story about which we asked him to expound.
LuxPop!: What makes Wegner's Flag Halyard Chair distinctive? And what was his philosophy in the design of it?
Richard Rooze: Wegner's Flag Halyard Chair "Flaglinestol" model GE 225(1950), is, without doubt, a brilliant design and unique in Wegner's oeuvre. Icelandic longhaired sheepskin and the flag line represent the ultimate in laid-back and luxurious relaxation. The basic idea and shape of the chair was conceived on a summer day at the beach as Wegner was digging himself into the sand building a comfortable "chair" to enjoy the afternoon. This anecdote reminds us that playing was also important to Wegner's work process. Despite having obvious preferences for wood, Wegner chose stainless steel for the Flag Halyard — a demonstration of his bold and courageous appetite, while paying tribute to the early modernists such as Le Corbusier, Mies van der Rohe, and Marcel Breuer. This iconic Wegner chair led to the lounging pieces of the 1960s Pop-era.
LP!: Your Flag Halyard Chair comes with a personal story. Can you share it with us?
RR: It was love at first sight for my Aunt Henny and Uncle Martin, that is, about this chair they saw in the furniture store in 1958, Amsterdam. To the unsophisticated eye, this crazy chair with the longhair fur looked more like a bed. It was the first furniture on which two people could lie close together and, in that way, it reflects the close relationship between a couple. Nobody understood why my aunt and uncle bought this unusual chair but, for Henny and Martin, it became central to their family. Their son, as a baby, was laid down on the lovely fur, and with each move the family made, the chair was given a prominent place in the interior.
As a child, I frequently visited my aunt and uncle, and developed an interest for their Flag Halyard Chair. After many moves, and years of my aunt's changes to the interior, the chair was left — forgotten in the attic of a farm building.
It has been a labor of love for me to restore the chair — and to give it a second life with new owners who, like my aunt and uncle, appreciate the exemplary design and craftsmanship of it.
LP!: Tell us about the restoration process.
RR: The search for original materials and the plaiting of the Flag Halyard Chair's seat, back, and arm rests— with a 240-meter-long, unbroken piece of flag line — took much time and effort. The chair has been completely restored with the original materials and is now in top condition. During the restoration, we discovered this particular chair was one of the first of Wegner's Flag Halyards as it was numbered "10" in both the armrest and frame.
LP!: Wegner designed over 500 chairs. How rare is the Flag Halyard Chair and was it ever put into mass production?
RR: An original Flag Halyard Chair is a rarity. It is unknown exactly how many of them were produced under the auspices of Wegner; however, after his death in 2007, his designs — including the Flag Halyard were licensed for reproduction by PP Møbler in collaboration with Århus Possement Fabrik A/S. Adjustments are made in the new models in the plaiting of the flag halyard line and with the use of plastic feet.
LP!: What is the value of an original Flag Halyard today?
RR: An un-restored example has a value of 19.400 euros, while a restored chair has a value of 24.400 euros.
LP!: You are a well-known artist and exhibitor of glass art. How does this chair complement Oljos Gallery's collection of original glasswork?
RR: Apart from my interest in exclusive and outstanding designs in furniture, I have always been inspired by the iconic painters throughout art history, especially those who depict sea life. My designs of glass objects are based on these two sources of inspiration, and the everlasting quality of these artists and designers are reflected in my work.