Today, I would like to introduce you to one of my room mates who is a bit of an animal: "Papa Bear" by Hans J. Wegner (1914-2007) from 1951. A journalist once claimed that whoever sat in this chair looked like he was cradled by bear paws. On one hand a scary image, but then also somehow positive. Does the shape of the armrests not create a real feeling of security?
When the "Bamsestol AP 19", as it is actually called, was delivered, this kind of primal look was a bit strange to me. At first, all I saw was the pattern, a spectacular pattern! Black and beige jags grew wildly over the backrest and seat. Very strange to look at, but still a testament to the times.
But even if the décor jumps out at you, for Hans J. Wegner, the seating comfort was definitely the most important. He had the task of designing a modern armchair with smaller dimensions than a regular model and which was supposed to be comfortable above all else. The armrests are not connected to the seat, which permits great mobility inside the seat shell. For materials, Wegner went a bit more traditional: The frame, covered in wool fabric, and the bear paws are made from ash. If the latter were covered in fabric, it would wear rather quickly.
At this place, permit me to address the different sitting cultures. In Scandinavia – my room mate is from Denmark - the average temperature is famously a bit lower than in southern Europe. Accordingly, people sit mainly in the house and not outside in the open. I can definitely imagine that Papa Bear contributes to comfort in front of a chimney fire - comfortable, but by no means sluggish!
For more stories about my room mates go here
1st chair of the Werner Löffler Collection
If you would like to learn more about Hans J. Wegner and the Papa Bear Chair (or Teddy Bear Chair), here a few suggestions for you:
- Carl Hansen & Søn A/S: www.carlhansen.de/designer/hans-j-wegner
- PP Møbler: www.pp.dk/index.php?page=designer&id=1
- Bernsen, Jens: Hans J Wegner, Dansk design center, København. 2001.
- Blond, Anne: Hans J. Wegner, The Art Museum, Tønder. 2014.
- Holmsted Olesen, Christian: Hans J. Wegner: Just One Good Chair, Hatje Cantz Verlag, Berlin. 2014.
Simone Krach-Kestin M.A.
Curator of the Werner Löffler Collection