Papa Bear Chair
By Hans J. Wegner
The wingback Papa Bear chair, also known as the Teddy Bear chair, has two outstretched arms with wood detailing once described by a critic as “great bear paws embracing you from behind” — hence the name. The piece was designed by Hans Wegner (1914–2007), a pioneer of Danish modernism who crafted nearly 500 chairs over the course of his long career. Not many of them, however, have the anthropomorphic qualities that this one does.
Wegner was raised in the south of Denmark, where he served as an apprentice to a cabinetmaker as a child. Inspired to study architecture and design, he enrolled at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen, then opened his own studio in 1943, working closely with peers like Arne Jacobsen, Erik Møller and more. He was a leading figure of the Scandinavian modernism movement, which championed quality craftsmanship, elegant design and efficient functionality.
The Papa Bear chair was Wegner’s first project with manufacturer A.P. Stolen, which enjoyed numerous collaborations with the designer over his career. Originally produced with a solid beechwood frame, Wegner’s chair, with its high backrest, lengthy back legs and comfortable cotton-upholstered cushioning, was designed in 1951 and had its first manufacturing run from 1953 to 1969. Its current production is managed by Danish joinery workshop PP Møbler, and the chair and ottoman are now available in a variety of wood and textile finishes.