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Ole Wanscher - Danish Architect and Furniture Designer 1903-1985

Ole Wanscher (1903-1985) was a Danish architect and designer. His father was the famous art historian, Vilhelm Wanscher.

Ole Wanscher was a student of Kaare Klint from 1925-27 at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen (København). Much later in Wanscher’s career he returned to the Royal Academy, however this time he returned in the role of professor. He carried on as a professor at the Academy until 1971. Like his father Ole Wanscher wrote several important books on furniture and furniture design from (1946-55). His most noteworthy book is, “Art of Furniture: 5000 Years of Furnoture and Interiors”. His books are available in Danish, English, German and Swedish.

Ole Wanscher opened up his own design studio in 1929. Much of the furniture he produced was made out of very expensive materials, such as rosewood and mahogany. Wanscher’s demand for high quality and expensive materials in his designs meant that his products were generally reserved for the upper class. However, Wanscher did put out some industrial designs which were intended to be mass produced and quite cheap. With these industrial designs he would compromise and use more inexpensive materials; such as beech and oak to make it possible for most people to afford them.

In 1933 Ole Wanscher had his first exhibit and he unveiled his most famous desk titled simply “Desk”. The desk is very refined with beautiful details.

In 1939 Wanscher received a very odd commission. He was asked by a very wealthy banker from Copenhagen to design an exclusive dinner table with 12 chairs. The banker did not put any limit on what Wanscher could charge him in creating this desk. The banker was willing to pay whatever he needed to for this unique set of furniture. The beautiful dining table Wanscher created was made of solid plates of very expensive Cuban mahogany. The 12 chairs were also made of Cuban mahogany. A.J. Iversen who was the cabinetmaker who manufactured the dining set said that it was the most demanding design he ever had to make. The dining set is a very good example of Ole Wanschers skill set. Throughout his career Wanscher created many furniture designs which were modern and without exaggerations.

In the years to come Ole Wanscher would go on to design many exclusive “one-off” pieces for offices and wealthy private people. He also decorated The Library in The Danish Institute in Rome. Wanscher is best known for his furniture designs; however besides from furniture he also designed silverware.

Ole Wanscher was inspired by classical Danish furniture. He also drew great inspiration from his vast interest and knowledge in 18th century English furniture; as well as Egyptian furniture. Both furniture types were usually made out of exquisite woods, something which he certain did in his own designs. In fact this influence is incredibly obvious in his most famous designs; “The Egyption Colonial Folding Chair” which was released in 1960, and was produced by A.J. Iversen. The chair is delicate piece in which he combined luxurious materials with excellent craftsmanship.

Like many designers who came from the Kaare Klint school of thought, Wanscher would always look back in time for his inspirations for his furniture design, and then strive to give the piece a more modern expression.

Wanscher was interested in industrial mass produced furniture, and he did attempt to design several pieces for mass production. However, his finest work was always achieved when he worked in collaboration with the cabinetmaker A. J. Iversen.

Ole Wanscher´s most famous design is “The Egyption Colonial Folding Chair”. However, it is well worth mentioning his “PJ-58 T-Chair” and his “Rungstedlund Chair”.

Ole Wanscher passed away in 1985.

LastUpdate: 2015-04-18 17:31:26