“The staff at PP Møbler consists of highly skilled artisans who work seriously with even the smallest details. Nothing is left to chance”.
PP Møbler was founded on 2 April 1953 by brothers Lars Peder and Ejnar Pedersen in Allerød, a small town north of Copenhagen. The Company has evolved through three generations of master cabinetmakers into one of the world’s most important and highly skilled workshops. .
The leadership and high standards of Lars Peder Pedersen gained the Company a reputation for outstanding quality. His brother Ejnar Pedersen was more creative with a strong network amongst architects and designers. His frequent experiments and making of prototypes led to the close friendship and collaboration with Hans J. Wegner.
Three generations of craftsmen
In 1977 Lars Peder Pedersen retired, passing the responsibility for the business to his brother, Ejnar. In the same year Ejnar’s son, Søren Holst Pedersen joined the Company and in 2001 his son, Kasper Holst Pedersen followed him.
Building on the foundations of previous generations, Kasper has worked to develop the PP brand and to increase sales in order to maintain a healthy growth for the business. Like the founders, Søren and Kasper are skilled cabinetmakers. Their desire to continue pushing the boundaries of design and crafts is central to the ethos of the Company.
Left to right – Søren Holst Pedersen-Ejnar Pedersen-Hans J. Wegner-Marianne Wegner
The close relationship to Hans J. Wegner and his family has also continued to develop through the generations and each has contributed to the ongoing efforts to establish and maintain the production of Wegner’s fine crafts collection.
PP Møbler have collaborated in developing numerous prototypes with many of Denmark’s most famous and influential designers including Nanna Ditzel, Poul Kjærholm, Finn Juhl, Verner Panton and of course Hans J. Wegner.
The first prototype developed in the same year the Company was founded was the Pot Chair for architects Nanna and Jørgen Ditzel. The Company working closely with the couple from the very beginning and Nanna Ditzel later commented “when everyone else says it can’t be done, I always turn to PP Møbler”
The Pot Chair was Originally designed for chair maker AP Stolen which led to the connection between Hans J. Wegner and Ejnar Pedersen.
The Papa Bear Chair
Throughout the 1950’s and 60’s Hans J. Wegner was busy supplying new designs for Salesco, a group of six companies including A P Stolen. PP Møbler were subcontracted throughout the 1950’s and 60’s to produce the frames for the Papa Bear Chair and a close friendship developed between Wegner, Ejnar Pedersen and the staff at PP Møbler.
On his initial visit to inspect the work in progress, Wegner had questioned the need for such high quality on a part that would be hidden by upholstery. Ejnar Pedersen responded by stating that the craftsmen needed to have pride in their work. Besides, PP Møbler only produces first class quality. It was a surprise to Wegner that in this instance his demands for excellence were more than matched.
Hans J. Wegner and PP Møbler
In 1961, Wegner’s mentor and friend, Master of Craftsmen Johannes Hansen died. Five years later in 1966, the annual Cabinetmaker’s Guild’s Autumn Exhibitions at which where Wegner had presented his most important new designs for over a quarter of a century was held for the last time.
Wegner missed the close collaboration with Johannes Hansen and the environment of a workshop in which to develop his Ideas. Eventually Wegner turned to PP Møbler with an offer for a closer collaboration.
Wegner’s original drawing of the PP Møbler logo circa 1976.
The longstanding collaboration between Hans J. Wegner and PP Møbler has been pivotal to the development of the workshop and PP Møbler’s brand. Wegner himself designed the characteristic logo of PP Møbler and for the over 20 years the brochures and marketing material for the Company. Wegner was considered a member of the team at PP Møbler and during his frequent visits he would often walk past the offices directly to the workshop in order to discuss a specific challenge with the craftsmen.
Left: Hans J. Wegner and Ejnar Pedersen inspect a Chinese Chair pp66. PP66 the earliest Wegner dining chair in production and Ejnar Pedersen’s favourite Wegner design.
The Company has re-introduced several of Wegner’s most challenging designs and collaborated in the development of many new challenging Wegner designs particularly the last of Wegner’s great experiments The Circle Chair.
The Circle Chair
Throughout most of his career Wegner was pursuing the basic idea of making an easy chair based on a ring. This notion resulted in a number of different chair designs that merely existed as sketches.
The Circle Chair was presented at the Cabinetmaker’s Guild’s Autumn Exhibition in 1986 and stands among the most successful and innovative design experiments conducted at PP Møbler.
At the age of 72 Wegner concluded over forty years of meditating on this simple thought by finishing the Circle Chair. This was the last of the big visionary design projects of Wegner and the concept and complexity of the chair demanded the most accurately measured construction drawings and a highly innovative production set up. Despite Wegner’s bold and daring ambition, the Circle Chair is one of his most accommodating easy chairs capable of servicing all members of a family in comfort.
Wegner’s first sketches bear a clear relationship to the Peacock Chair but later variations became more geometrical and made use of steel and flag line. The distinctive pattern created by clamping the flag line with metal clips appears on sketches drawn in early 1960 and the first drawings of the Circle Chair are dated 1965.
Wegner proposed making it in steel as he doubted that it would be possible to produce such a large ring in wood. In numerous experiments conducted in the workshop after normal working hours Wegner concluded that a steel construction was unworkable.
The flag line could not easily be held in place when wrapped around the metal ring while simply cutting slots to secure it to a wooden one would solve this problem. One Sunday afternoon when Ejnar and his girlfriend Hanne Kjærholm entered the workshop to find Wegner frustrated by the obstacles to his steel experiments, the obvious question was, “Can this be made of wood”.
Evolution of Wegner’s Chinese Chairs and PP Møbler
Wegner seated explains to Ejnar Pedersen the importance of have room for ones posterior through the omission of a vertical splat. “It’s important to have plenty of space for the behind”. Hans J. Wegner
The history of the designs produced by PP Møbler that are derived from Wegner’s study of Ming dynasty chairs is an evolutionary one with variants on the theme designed over a period spanning more than forty years. Each chair has its own individual character and technical challenge but all are a result of the experience Wegner gained from earlier versions. Common to all is the omission of a vertical upright or splat back support as it counteracts correct ergonomics.
From the organically shaped back supports of the Round, Cow Horn and Swivel Chairs carved in large pieces of solid timber offering abundant comfort, Wegner gradually reduced the use of wood in his designs exemplified in the Bull Chair and the Minimal Chair.
In 1969, Wegner designed his first chairs, pp201 | pp203 exclusively for the Company and urged Ejnar Pedersen to start selling under the name and brand of PP Møbler.
In creating the pp201 | pp203, Wegner returned to the geometric form of the Chinese Chair with a frame and steam bent arms supporting the back while staying true to correct ergonomic principles.
With the Ferry Chair, Wegner increased the comfort reminiscent of the Round Chair. Finally, in the pp68 & pp58, Wegner distilled the experience of a lifetime to create a simple yet supremely comfortable chair using a single piece of steam bent wood sculptured to support the back.
An important part of building up the product line was to take over the licenses for discontinued Wegner models. In the mid 1970’s, Chinese Chair pp66, originally designed in 1945 for Fritz Hansen was initiated. Soon after the key designs produced by Andreas Tuck were added to the collection when that business ceased trading.
In 1990 Wegner and PP Møbler finally settled their common ambition for the future of the Company by undertaking the responsibility for the unique collection of modern classics that had been produced in the 1950’s and 60’s by one of the outstanding Danish workshops of the period, Johannes Hansen.
Among Wegner’s masterpieces produced by PP Møbler since this time are the Round Chair, the Minimal Chair, the Peacock Chair, the Architect’s Desk, the Valet Chair, the Tub Chair and many others.
Today the Wegner designs produced at PP Møbler constitute the fine crafts collection of Wegner and demonstrate an impressive insight into the amazing legacy of this true master of modernism
Production techniques and and materials used at PP Møbler
The standard of timber used at PP Møbler is unique for the furniture industry requiring trees of two different sizes. For the majority of production PP uses the same size of timber standard in the furniture industry. These trees are about 80-100 years old when felled and usually a large area of trees this age are harvested for industry use.
They are cut into planks of 1ó, 1., 2 or 2ó inch and conditioned to about 10-12% of natural moisture content. At the sawmill PP specialists select only those of the highest quality to be delivered to the workshop where each log is tagged and separated from the others.
Designs like the Round, Cow Horn, Valet, Swivel and Bull Chair, however, require trees that are much larger than those used as standard. Fortunately, whenever an area of trees is felled in the regular deforestation process a few of the most healthy trees are left standing as shelter for the new young trees that will grow in the felled area. These are called ‘shelter trees’.
Whenever shelter trees are felled we take them immediately to the saw mill to be cut into 3, 4 and 5 inch planks. The freshly cut planks are then brought directly to our workshop. While the planks are still naturally moist we cut out and pair the raw pieces needed for a particular chair.
Cutting the raw parts out of freshly felled trees is necessary as the large 5 inch thick planks could take up to 10 years to dry and the risk of cracks or fungus occurring in the conditioning process would be high.
It is important, therefore, that the back and the armrests are cut out before the extensive process of conditioning the wood begins. These smaller parts can be conditioned within approximately two years reducing the risk of cracking or of fungus developing. Making furniture of the quality such as the Round Chair requires considerable investment up to two years in advance of selling it to a customer.
This is a very time consuming process controlled solely by the nature of the each tree. Any attempt to shortcut or speed up the conditioning process would be counterproductive.
All the wood used at PP Møbler comes from sustainably managed forests.. The majority of our timber is purchased locally in Denmark or from our regional neighbours Germany, who share the same traditions for cultivating sustainable forests as ourselves.The preferred species are those hard woods that are native to the Danish forests such as oak, ash, beech, maple or cherry.
The Company rarely imports species from other countries and when this is necessary only FSC certified timber subjected to extensive verification are purchased.
The overall stability of the wood used is vital to the Company given the exacting nature of the designs produced and guarantees the longevity of every piece of PP furniture.
In order to stabilise the wood used it is conditioned to below 6% moisture content. This is exceptional and far below normal industry standards. Proper conditioning is decisive to the quality of the finished product.
Design Nanna Ditzel
Design Hans J. Wegner
Crafts and technology at PP Møbler
PP Møbler is the last Danish workshop upholding many craft traditions necessary in making many of the designs in their collection.
In addition the workshop is highly advanced and equipped with state of the art technology employing sophisticated techniques. PP Møbler’s approach when implementing new technology is clear and is only adopted when it will improve the quality of the finished product. However, it is the individual craftsmen and women at PP Møbler who oversee the production of each piece of furniture that passes through their hands..
In the 1950’s and 60’s when the Round Chair were made at Johannes Hansen’s workshop the shaping had to be done by hand starting with just a raw cut piece of wood. This resulted in many different ‘versions’, some of which varied significantly from the original design both in terms of shape, strength and comfort.
At PP Møbler the subtle details in the organic shapes of Wegner’s finest designs are taken very seriously. By following the shape of a template, machining and replicating it in wood, a copy lathe is used to bring these extremely challenging designs closer to the ideas of Wegner and maintaining a consistent quality inline with his original vision.
Five axis C&C Machine
The most cutting edge piece of technology at PP Møbler is a custom built five axis milling robot, the CNC machine (Computer
Navigation Control). The robot is capable of moving and orienting freely and extremely accurately in three dimensional space. It is astoundingly flexible and accommodates the integration of many different tools.
As a result it is not merely a milling machine but a multifunctional tool where the only limitation is the imagination and skill of the user. A craftsman has to invest time to understand and work with the computer interface.
As the CNC machine works in a closed environment it shifts the critical milling moments away from the craftsman’s hands and eyes. Aligning the programme with the physical position of an item is, therefore, a time consuming and often experimental challenge.
This requires the experience gained from working with more traditional machinery and at PP Møbler the setting up and programming are developed in-house by skilled and experienced craftsmen.
The first CNC machine was installed in 2001, and Hans J. Wegner followed closely the first years of implementing the new CNC technology. Wegner expressed great interest in the machine, and when he saw it for the first time he exclaimed, ”Wow – wish I’d had one of those!” Wegner’s had nothing against technological progress as long as it helped improve quality.
When the CNC machine was first programmed to cut the joint for the back of the Round Chair it did so with unprecedented precision. The two old friends Wegner and Ejnar Pedersen were so astonished that they sat for half a day just watching the younger generations working with the machine
Why PP furniture lasts for generations
The joints are decisive to the longevity of a product and it is important to undertake extensive preparation in order to reach the most ideal conditions to join two pieces of wood.
Many of the joints made at PP Møbler are extremely complex and are based on idealism and a love for joinery and wood rather than simply the application.
Joints such as those on the back of the Round Chair are visible from many angles. This leaves no room for imperfection which is a daily challenge for the workshop. The slightest inaccuracy in the cut or in the way it is glued will result in a visible flaw. A good joint takes time and parts have to be cut with absolute accuracy.
Some joints cannot be fully completed by machines alone and may need manual adjustment in order to gain their maximum strength. The basic joint of the PP Møbler joinery is the tenon, often cut out of the part that it’s going to connect. Tenons are very strong because they have a high connecting surface along the direction of the wood grain. We have tested a large number of sample joints at a laboratory and found that a joint like the ones illustrated opposite can withstand about one ton of pulling strength.
Attention to detail at PP Møbler
Wood is a material with a will of its own and it is a lifelong education trying to fully understand it.
The complicated organic shapes of the design of the products made by PP Møbler are impossible, to finish by using machines alone. Machines will never be able to sense the subtle nuances in each piece of wood and how to bring vitality through its shape. Technology and machinery are of enormous assistance to us but we still spend many hours of manual work in shaping. In this process the craftsmen have to be mindful of the concept behind the design because the final shape will always be an individual’s interpretation.