pp63 by Hans Wegner 1975

 

Chair pp52 designed by Hans Wegner in 1975 ... later called the Ferry Chair after the chair was purchased by DFDS for a ferry on the service across the North Sea

Chair pp63 is one of a series designed by Hans Wegener for the cabinetmakers PP Møbler in the 1970s. It dates from 1976 and remained in production until 2001.

The frame is a wider, so slightly more open and generous version of the well-known Ferry Chair - pp52 and pp62 - but the most obvious difference is the pattern of the weave for the seat in paper cord.

On the earlier Wishbone Chair from 1950, and for most chairs by Wegner with a paper cord seat, the rails of the seat are staggered - the side rails set higher than the front rail - and that determines the pattern of the weave with a distinct diagonal intersection where the cord is taken across the top, right over the rail and back on the underside.

On the pp63 the front rail of the seat is shaped, forming a slight hollow to the profile and curving forward at the front, and the mortices for the tenons of the front and side rails are at the same level forming a thinner profile. The cord is taken across the top in a single layer  - so not returning underneath - and the pattern is a basket weave with paired cords taken front to back but widely spaced with a line of knots at the front and back where the cords pass over the rail once, are turned back and round the rail with 6 or 7 strands to form a space and then taken back to the back rail passing over and under pairs of cords running left to right. These paired cords, running left right across the seat, go ver the side rail and round underneath and round a metal tension bar, just inside the side rail, and then back and round the outside of the side rail before returning across the top of the seat.

Stretchers below the seat are straight - taller than thick - and rounded at the top and bottom and are set quite low on the sides and across the back strengthening the impression of a robust frame for the chair seat.

The legs are set vertically - rather than angled out as on The Round Chair and Wishbone Chair - round in cross section below the seat, so like a pole, but above they are flattened off on two sides … in part to make them look less hefty but also as the way to reduce the size of the tenon at the top where the leg is housed into the underside of a back rail.

This curved top rail, forming a back rest and arm rails in a single piece, is set horizontally … on the Wishbone Chair and for pp201, the first chair in this series, the curved back rail is set at an angle rising up from the front to the centre of the back as on a Chinese Chair. More comfortable and deeper support for spine on the pp63 is provided by a flat face cut along the centre of the top rail and with a shaped crest added above, to make the back rest deeper. Made in two pieces there is an inlay of dark wood between the rail and the crest and distinctive key pieces in dark wood between the two halves of the crest.

The back rest has a shaped profile so the back face is hollow rather than flat.

By setting the legs vertical, cutting the mortice-and-tenon joints was simplified and by removing the taper on the legs turning was more straightforward and the stretchers are straight so curiously, although there are more parts to the chair, in many ways it appears simpler and more modern or less formal than The Round Chair and was certainly easier to make and wasted less wood so was less expensive to make.

 

The back rest has a shaped profile so the back face is hollow rather than flat.

By setting the legs vertical, cutting the mortice-and-tenon joints was simplified and by removing the taper on the legs turning was more straightforward and the stretchers are straight so curiously, although there are more parts to the chair, in many ways it appears simpler and more modern or less formal than The Round Chair and was certainly easier to make and wasted less wood so was less expensive to make.

 

pp63

Hans Wegner (1914-2007)

cabinetmakers PP Møbler

height: 71cm

width :58cm ?

depth: 48cm

height of seat: 43cm

oak or ash

pp62 pp63 paper cord and pp52 upholstered

 

The Round Chair designed by Hans Wegner in 1949 

CH37 designed in 1962

pp208 from 1972 with the seat pad supported on the front and back stretchers that are set at a higher level than on the version with a seat in cord

the shaped front stretcher on a Chinese Chair designed by Wegner in 1945 - essentially the form of stretcher used to support the upholstered seat on the pp203, pp208, pp52 and pp58 - much less baulky than a traditional upholstered seat over a separate frame - the stretcher is rarely seen straight on and is much less obvious when seen from above ... and of course is completely hidden when there is someone sitting in the chair  

The series of chairs designed by Hans Wegner for the cabinetmakers PP Møbler - starting in 1969 and continuing through to one of the last commercial designs by Wegner in 1987 - is important because it shows a tight sequence of variations that are determined by technical developments in shaping and bending wood and by clear developments in understanding and applying ideas about ergonomics, so what makes a chair comfortable, but also a strong sense of changing fashions … the designs are in pale wood rather than dark or exotic wood such as mahogany or teak and are less formal than the more expensive dining chairs produced through the 1940s and 1950s. The rationalisation of the design also makes them a more commercial proposition.

The starting point seems to have been to combine the best features of the Chinese-style chairs from the 1940s and The Round Chair from 1949 but the aim was also to produce a simpler chair, less formal and more appropriate for contemporary taste. 

There appears to be an intermediate step for in 1962, Wegner had designed a chair - the CH37 - that had straight, vertical legs - so not tapered and not angled out - with stretchers to create a strong frame for the seat but the back rest was of the Shaker type with a thin curved piece of wood so, although it looks rather dated and too much like a country chair, it must have been relatively comfortable.

Then, designed in 1969, chair pp201 was the first chair specifically for the cabinetmaker PP Møbler. Wegner focused on making production more efficient but without compromising quality. It has the vertical legs that are straight and with straight rather than turned stretchers that are rectangular in section but rounded at the top and bottom and so similar to the stretchers on the Chinese Chair from 1945 and the Wishbone Chair from 1950. For this chair, however, the back rest is circular in section and bent round in a single curve, as on a Chinese Chair, flattened at the middle but with a deeper section added below the curve to form a deeper and more comfortable back rest and with a dark veneer separating the two parts and a single block of dark wood as a key at the centre. 

That chair has a paper cord seat but there is also a version - the pp203 - with an upholstered seat. This does not have a separate frame for the seat but simply an upholstered pad that is supported by moving up the stretchers across the front and back that are also shaped so that at each end they have a shoulder and step down before they are joined into the leg.

A version of this chair was produced in 1972 where the same shape of back rest was cut from a single piece of wood and then bent to shape to simplify the work. Model pp209 had a seat in paper cord and the pp209 had an upholstered seat.

The next stage, the third in the sequence, was the pp52 or Ferry Chair from 1975, also with a leather seat, and a version - the pp62 - with paper cord seat. The frame of the chair, with straight legs and stretchers, was similar but the curve of the back is set horizontal - moving the front end towards the table up and the centre of the back down slightly but enough to change the level where it cuts across the spine so the additional section of wood, added to make the back rest deeper, and therefore more comfortable, was moved from under the curve to on top of the curve.

It was this version that was ordered by DFDS ferries in 1978 …. and with over 800 chairs purchased that is still the largest single order won by PP Møbler.

Final stage came in 1987 with the pp68 that has a single piece of wood for the back that is steam bent and a cord seat.

That design was modified further in 1987 to create the pp58 that has a padded seat and the pp68 with a seat in paper cord but the front legs finish at the seat and the back rest or back rail is supported on the upper parts of the back legs and it curves round and extends to short arms like the Bull Chair. There was even a version, the pp58/3, that has three legs and stacks.


pp63 table.jpeg
 

showroom display by PP Møbler to show how the wood for the back rest of the PP68 is bent, shaped and finished

 
 
PP63.jpg

pp201 1969 onwards

pp209 1972-2004

pp62 1975 onwards

pp68 1987 onwards