“Hans J Wegner is one of my favourite designers of all time; he is a real designer’s designer,” says Paul Smith. To mark the centenary of the late Danish master’s birth, Smith was invited to select his favourite pieces and create a newly upholstered capsule collection.
Launching this week during the Milan furniture fair, it consists of five designs, including the iconic Wing chair (from £7,188, first picture) and Wishbone chair (from £744). Designed for Danish manufacturer Carl Hansen & Søn in 1950, the Wing chair features a Y-shaped back and was utterly boundary-pushing in its day.
Smith has covered both chairs in a new version of his Stripes fabric. Since 2002, he has collaborated with US textile company Maharam to create striped fabrics of differing width and scale (which are also for sale). To date, Stripes exists in five colourways, but Smith is extending the palette to 10, and only new versions will be used on the Wegner furniture.
Carl Hansen & Søn has manufactured furniture for 106 years. It also reproduces the works of other midcentury masters, among them Mogens Koch, Kaare Klint and Ole Wanscher. Maharam, too, has a fine pedigree; even older than Carl Hansen & Søn, its textiles are in the permanent collections of MoMA New York, the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam and the Art Institute of Chicago.
The rest of the collection – the three-legged Shell chair (from £2,995, second picture), the Lounge chair (from £3,595) and a three-seater sofa (from £8,385, third picture) – is upholstered in Smith’s Big Stripe. Launched last September, it is inspired by the concept of colour-field painting, which hailed from New York in the 1940s and 1950s and is typified by the work of German abstract expressionist Blinky Palermo.
“Everybody who knows I’ve been involved in this project has been in awe of Hans Wegner’s work. To be asked to do something to these iconic pieces is a real privilege,” adds Smith. The collection debuts at both the Paul Smith store and the Carl Hansen & Søn showroom in Milan, before appearing in select stores around the world.