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Hans J Wegner´s Shell Chair is, hands down, the most intriguing Danish furniture design of the 20th century. Since its appeal is certainly not trivial, it’s perhaps why the three legged chair chair was not an immediate commercial success story. It took people nearly 35 years to fully appreciate the extraordinary chair’s unconventional form.


Legendary Danish Modernism figure Hans J. Wegner was a renowned furniture designer, who was passionate about chairs, earning “the Master of the Chair” nickname. Wegner is responsible for over 500 chair designs, most of them were mass produced later on. Even if it was first introduced to the public in 1963, its compelling story dates way back to 1948. Back then, he experimented with an innovative process of molding laminate wood.  

shell chair

Source: Visual Hunt

He introduced a prototype manufactured from molded plywood a year later, that was supported on the unique three legged base. He revived this three legged chair design in 1963 by crafting the Shell Chair, which was officially debuted at a Danish furniture exhibition. Its futuristic, avant-garde shape made the public reluctant even if it was received well by critics. The mass production was stopped due to this misfortune, leaving only a tiny first batch available for sale.

Luckily according to Merchant & Makers, in 1997 two of the original 1963 Wegner three legged chairs were auctioned at Sotheby’s in London, going for £20,000 each. It’s story dramatically changed! Going back into production that same year, it immediately enjoyed a breakthrough in the furniture design industry.  It was awarded a myriad of coveted design awards! 

shell chair

Source: Decoist


The shape of the Shell Chair is rather ascetic, but elegant and highly unusual. This uniqueness and floating lightness was popular in Scandinavian design according to The Method Case.  Its design perfectly embodies its master designer’s famous credo, claiming the following: “A chair should have no rear view. It should be beautiful from all sides and angles.” 

Of course, the chair with its iconic curvy design looks very appealing under any angle and incredibly futuristic. The organic curves of the piece was expertly achieved by using molded plywood, a process that was pioneered by American designer Charles Eames. So, the resemblance between the Eames molded plywood lounge chair and the Shell Chair is undeniable.

shell chair

The wood used consists of many layers of trendy walnut plywood with oak veneer. These layers are then molded into the desired shape. A span of the chair, with its wing like parabolic form, is a very distinctive characteristic of Wegner’s design, giving its famous smiling appearance. The three legged base is another remarkable feature of this masterpiece. 

Its front legs are made of a single piece of continuing oak veneer laminate, tapered at both ends. Also serving as backrest support, the back leg is meticulously made in a similar way. With its front legs’ curves extended sideways, adjacent to the curve of the bent sit pan. This solution greatly contributes to the Shell Chair’s ductile, soft look and lightness.

shell chair

Source: Home Designing

Even if it’s supported on only three legs, the chair is highly stable thanks to an extremely low center of gravity. With a slightly bent backwards backrest, it hints at its relaxing, comfy feel. The backrest and seat are available in a broad range of leathers. Even if the chair with a Scnadinavian feel is a modern art masterpiece, it’s surprisingly comfy and fully functional. 

Fun Facts

Here a few fun facts about Wegner’s iconic three legged chair:

  • Did you know 2013 marked the 50th anniversary of this smiling beauty with Scandinavian features? Pretty amazing!
  • Did you know Wgner tested an array of leg configurations while designing the Shell Chair? In time, the three-legged solution was adopted from his 1949 chair prototype.
shell chair

Source: Dwell

According to Forbes, Christina Caredes, CEO of contemporary design retail store Space Furniture, considers anniversary pieces like Wishbone Chair, also by Wegner, released in limited quantities as a great investment as they’re revamped with rarer materials or colors. Pieces with extraordinary value and extremely rare first editions that are reintroduced in the auction market like the avant-garde chair are also prime investments according to Caredes. 

Even if Wegner’s three legged beauty didn’t have a good initial reception, the design has been produced until now, and it can be seen in homes worldwide. What does this prove? Great design that wasn’t in style will never go out of style! 

shell chair

Source: Home Designing

Last Thoughts

Combining functionality and high design, the Hans Wegner Shell Chair replica, the Danish design icon, is undeniably compact and comfortable. It’s perfect for apartments or houses! This masterpiece is gorgeous from every angle, increasing its accent capacity. 

And with so many wood types and leather options available, this Nordic beauty can be yours regardless of style. Ready to purchase your three legged Shell Chair replica at Barcelona Designs? Browse our extensive catalog!