My friends at Home Anthology asked me to take on two of these CH23 chairs by Danish designer Hans Wegner. I had already done one for myself and was happy to restore these two.
Someone had redone the seats with heavy black polypropylene rope. It almost looked like the elegant black paper cord that you see on some Danish chairs…but it not quite. Definitely didn’t feel like paper cord.
The wood—a handsome combination of teak and oak—had decades’ worth of grime on it.
I use a solvent-free oil to clean the wood and condition it. No nasty fumes!
The backs of dining chairs are usually the dirtiest part because that’s where people grab them. I guess they don’t notice the buildup because it happens so gradually.
I sure notice when it comes off, though.
Once the frames are clean and oiled, the weaving starts. First I do the front-to-back strands.
The cord is looped around Danish L-nails, which inevitably scratch my knuckles and inspire a few curse words.
I should learn to swear in Danish. It seems appropriate.
Then the front and back rails are wrapped in cord between the strands. The cord must be kept meticulously and evenly tight to look good. It’s hard on the hands.
Last, double side-to-side strands are woven with a leading loop pulled off the main roll of cord. This is mindless but is also hard on the hands. The last few rows are the toughest because there’s not much room left for the cord.
The Wegner CH23 chairs have two side rails so you get to do this cool extra wrapping that makes a beautiful pattern. It doesn’t have any function. Just looks good.
Well, ok, I guess the second rail might make the frame stronger…but the wrapping doesn’t do anything other than look Danish-super-model gorgeous.
Done! Danish paper cord seats are comfortable to sit on and are very durable, lasting thirty or forty years with proper care. I love the contrast of the woven cord with the wood. So handsome.
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