[This post is a paid partnership with Carl Hansen & Søn]
I’ve always been very creative and I hope to foster the same love for art and design in my daughter. Now she’s getting older, having turned one in March, I want to create little moments around the house where she can express her creativity and make the space her own. What could be a better way to do so than with the ultimate design for children – their very first table and chair.
I remember my first table and chair when I was a child. Cheap and cheerful, it was a bright red plastic affair that could be used both inside and out. I’m guessing at that time in the late Eighties/early Nineties there weren’t many stylish options when it came to design for children. How far we’ve come now – with an array of stylish, minimalist children’s designs that can fit seamlessly into almost any home.
None more so than Peter’s table and chair by Danish designer Hans J. Wegner, produced by Carl Hansen & Søn. The simple, considered yet subtly playful chair was designed in 1944 as a christening gift for the son of his friend Børge Mogensen. I suppose when you’re giving a piece of furniture to a fellow furniture designer, you want to make sure that it’s truly unique and ticks all the boxes. At 30 years of age, Wegner hadn’t yet designed his famous Wishbone chair or become the master of Danish design as he is known now, but he was already creating icons in the making.
With the scarcity of materials in wartime Europe at an all time low, Wegner conceived and crafted an ingenious, economical design for little Peter. This functional children’s table and chair is perhaps one of the first examples of flat pack furniture. That’s more than a decade before Gillis Lundgren came up with the idea for IKEA in 1956 after trying to transport a table in his car. Made of wooden pieces that can easily be slotted together in minutes, Peter’s table and chair foreshadowed a lot of contemporary, space-saving design that we see today. And it still looks fresh and new nearly 80 years later.
Wegner’s idea was to create a practical piece of furniture that could also become an engaging toy. Peter’s table and chair can be assembled by adults and children alike, without the need for any tools, glue or screws. That means none of the frustration or inevitable arguing that seems to come hand in hand with flat pack instructions. And you won’t find an Allen key in sight.
The pieces of the table and chair fit together like a puzzle. Peter’s chair comes in four neat pieces, with two side panels that slot into a seat and a rectangular backrest to hold everything in place. The lightweight design can easily be moved around by two handle-shaped holes.
Peter’s table also comes in the most minimal of parts, with two leg sections, a table top and a brace to support the simple structure. It is held together by two pegs, which slot into holes at the end of the central bar. Once fitted together, the table is sturdy and solid. The rounded edges are smooth and ensure there’s nothing for little heads to knock against.
The result is perfect for small spaces and compact nurseries. Here, the table and chair fits neatly into an alcove in our living room, creating an adorable corner for creativity and play. She’s not quite old enough to sit still on a chair for more than five seconds, but it was delightful to get a glimpse into the future and see what possibilities there are for design for children.
And when your child grows out of the design, the table and chair can be quickly unassembled then stored away or passed onto another child.
Carl Hansen & Søn now produce Peter’s table and chair in untreated beech, which helps give a contemporary finish. It’s a beautiful, charming design with a heartwarming story. ‘Many foreigners have asked me how we created the Danish style,’ Wegner once said. ‘And I’ve answered that it was a continuous process of purification and of simplification – to cut down to the simplest possible design of four legs, a seat, and a combined back- and armrest.’ This might just be his best example.
If you’re in the UK, Peter’s table and chair can be purchased from Carl Hansen & Søn or from The Conran Shop, the chair is priced at £330 and the table at £385 (link here – AD Affiliate link).