The Mexican “Hans J. Wegner” Folding Chair

Today I will share with you a charming old story about how a rustic version of Wegner’s famous folding chair, the JH512, made its way to Mexico.

As you may recall, the “JH512 Folding Chair” designed by Hans J. Wegner and made by Johannes Hansen was presented along with “The Chair” at the legendary 1949 Cabinetmakers’ Guild’s Autumn Exhibition. Interestingly, the “Folding Chair” was not actually the star piece of that year, even though this particular chair is one of the designs by Wegner that was most plagiarized.

A few years later, Hans J. Wegner and his wife took a 3 months study trip to the US and Mexico in 1952. He visited several places during his stay in Mexico.

The legend says that Wegner happened to meet young Robert L. Krause, probably in Cuernavaca at that time. Krause was an American lawyer from Oregon, who purchased a house in Cuernavaca from the 1930’s, envisioning his dream to refurbish the property and convert it into the soon famous Restaurant & Hotel “Las Mañanitas”. The property was owned previously by a Mr. Conway, also an American. Conway called the house “Las Mañanitas”, to pay homage to the famous Mexican birthday song he heard for the first time when he arrived in Mexico.

I remember, that when I saw these so familiar folding chairs in the “Las Mañanitas” gardens back in the early 1990’s, I asked the most seasoned employees of the place about them, and they told me the following anecdote: “that during Hans Wegner´s visit to Mexico, he provided Krause with some advises about the chairs that he should use for seating his guests in the garden area. Krause wanted some light weighted chairs for his garden that would be easy and fast to accommodate during the afternoon and evening hours for cocktails and they should not occupy too much space when stowed away during day time.”

And voilá! Wegner visualized his JH512 folding chair (now PP512) as the perfect solution for Krause´s predicament. Nevertheless, the production and transport of the JH512 would not make it from Denmark to Mexico and then to Cuernavaca, so Wegner instructed skilled local artisans in Cuernavaca on how to make a rustic Mexican version of his folding chair. Ever since, these appealing folding chairs have been part of the personality of Las Mañanitas and they still furnish until today the garden area, after more than 60 years!

Noteworthy, the furniture company MUEBLES TOLUCA in Mexico replicated Hans J. Wegner´s folding chair as well as other Wegner chair designs. The company specialized in handwoven rush furniture pieces. You may still find some wonderful samples on Mexican flea markets.

If the tale that I was told so many years ago is true or just a legend, well, that I will leave up for your own magical thinking. Krause travelled many times to India and he always brought with him all kind of mysterious seeds, exotic climbing plants and trees for his “Las Mañanitas” gardens. For many years he embellished the garden of his dreams.

© Karin Goyer and Don S. Shoemaker Furniture, 2010-2021. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this website’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Karin Goyer and Don S. Shoemaker Furniture with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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