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Back in autumn I travelled to Copenhagen to explore the enduring legacy of Vilhelm Lauritzen, one of Denmark’s most influential architects and a pioneer of Danish Modernism. To celebrate 100 years since he founded his eponymous studio, Carl Hansen & Søn had just put some of the furniture he designed for his iconic building projects into full production – and now I’ve had the chance to test out one of the pieces, the VLA26 ‘Vega’ chair, for myself.
Lauritzen created the chair for Folkets Hus (the ‘People’s House’), opened in 1956 as a labour movement meeting place and community centre, but since converted into a concert hall and renamed Vega. He was responsible for every aspect of this wonderfully soulful and atmospheric building, from its famous double staircase and inlaid wooden panelling right down to the exit signs, sockets and door handles – in fact for him it was the small details that made the biggest difference, bringing the whole space together. The chair was one such feature, formed from a bentwood seat and backrest on a powder-coated steel frame and intended to be lightweight, stackable and easy to move around. It proved incredibly robust and some of the originals remain in use inside the venue to this day, but the design has never before been made available elsewhere.
To launch the ‘Vega’ chair to a wider audience, the Carl Hansen team worked closely with Vilhelm Lauritzen Architects, uncovering archive drawings and scrutinising the surviving examples. Some minor changes have been made to the proportions to improve stability, and recycled nylon pads have been added under the seat to prevent scratches when it’s stacked, but otherwise the new version is remarkably similar to Lauritzen’s own design.
Available in black-stained oak as well as the clear-lacquered finish shown here, the latest iteration of the chair is simple, elegant and characterful. The slender frame gives it a refined look, while the splayed insect-like legs and delicate oak feet (a charming Lauritzen feature that the team were determined to keep) add a playful flair.
What struck me most, though, is just how versatile the ‘Vega’ chair is. It works in spaces big and small, old and new, public and private. But I think it’s particularly useful in today’s increasingly compact and multifunctional homes, where one corner might have to transition seamlessly from morning coffee spot to daytime office to evening dinner setting.
As my own house is currently undergoing repairs, I put the chair to the test in a friend’s home and I was very taken by the mix of form and function. The wide seat and curved shell cradle the body, meaning it’s supportive enough to sit on for long periods of time, and it can easily be stacked out of the way when not in use – ideal if you want to create more space for working, and then bring out extra seats for meals or visitors. Beautifully precise, gently padded upholstery in a range of leather and fabric options can also be added, should you wish to ramp up the comfort levels even further.
Perhaps most importantly, the revamped chair can be fully disassembled. Any parts that get knocked or damaged can therefore be repaired or replaced, increasing its lifespan and reducing the potential for waste. This also creates the possibility of changing the colour or upholstery at some point in the future, further enhancing the VLA26’s already impressive adaptability.
To me, the ‘Vega’ chair embodies timeless Danish design, and it looks just as fitting in contemporary settings as it does in the 1950s building for which it was first created. It’s a true Scandinavian classic with a rich history behind it, and it’s great to think we can now welcome a little slice of Lauritzen’s signature style into our own homes.
The VLA26 ‘Vega’ chair is available to buy now from Carl Hansen & Søn flagship stores and stockists worldwide, with prices starting at around £320 / €423 (excluding VAT). And if you want to take a peek inside the stunning ‘Vega’ concert hall that inspired it, you’ll find photos from my October visit here.
All photography by Abi Dare; location courtesy of @theclinicalhome