The Enduring Appeal of the Hans J. Wegner-Style Rope Chair
I’m a firm believer that it’s always better to have more seating in your house. It creates a lot of different spaces for guests to gather and socialize when you’re hosting, but it’s also great to have different nooks to snuggle up in with a book. The location I had in mind for this chair is definitely not a corner — it’s actually a very small gap of wall in the center of my apartment, but it helps connect my living and dining spaces together. When I was researching chairs to stick in this space, I knew it had to fulfill three criteria: it had to be pretty small; it had to be comfortable and lounge-y so you can kick up your feet in it; and lastly it had to be easy to move.
If anyone followed my Instagram stories a few days ago (follow me here), you’d know that I finally found my piece: the Hans J. Wegner-style Folding Chair, AKA the Rope Chair.
The rockstar Danish Modern furniture designer has created a number of iconic mid-century modern pieces you’re probably quite familiar with, like the Wishbone Chair and the Round Chair, which are still staples in pretty much every home design blog or magazine you’ve ever casually flipped through. (Our dining tables are actually replicas of the Wegner’s Wishbone design. Needless to say, I’m a big fan.)
Wegner also designed another bestseller in 1949 called the Folding Chair, but as Wegner didn’t name his own designs (he left that up to his manufacturers), it also goes by the Rope Chair or the PP-512 chair. And an authentic vintage Wegner Rope Chair easily goes for thousands upon thousands of dollars — which, I’m not inclined to spend right now, no matter how much I love the design.
The Folding Chair was meant to be lightweight and moveable, and even includes a wishbone-style hook that allows you to hang the chair up on the wall when it’s not in use. The most common composition of these chairs was a seat and back woven with Danish paper cord set in a teak frame. Wegner was a trained cabinet-maker, and his love of woodworking is evident in a lot of his designs. And it fits in perfectly with his design mantra: “A chair is to have no backside. It should be beautiful from all sides and angles.”
Luckily, like a lot of Wegner’s designs, there was a wealth of more affordably priced replicas made in the 1960’s, most of them coming from Yugoslavia. Wegner’s original design included handles, though some replicas do not (like mine). The look was even ripped off by another furniture designer Ebert Wels from the UK in 1960.
It was just my luck that I happened to give the old Craigslist another look, and a little old lady was letting go of her Yugoslavian replica for just $200, which is a total steal considering even vintage replicas can go for as much as $600 online. So, I trekked all the way to Flushing, Queens where the seller lived. When she pulled the chair out from her garage, my heart kind of fell out of my chest. And sure, fifty years of love and wear mean that it’s not in pristine condition, but honestly, it’s in pretty excellent shape all things considering.
Now, for those of you wondering, the dimensions of this little seat is kind peculiar. It about 29 inches tall, 30 inches deep, and 24 inches wide. The seat is only about 13 inches off the ground, so you sit quite low in it.
I decided to style it with a sheepskin throw (because I’m extra), and I’m rotating through pillows to see which one I like best. This one is a yellow velvet accent pillow from West Elm. And I must say, when I placed the chair in its designated spot, it just looked like it had come home. Wegner was also quoted as saying, "A chair is only finished when someone sits in it.” And so that’s what I did.