How to Spot a Fake CH07 Shell Chair

It looks so simple. Just two pieces of bent plywood designed to curve round you and welcome you in. Two more pieces of wood bent to make three legs. A bit of cushioning. And that’s it. In this case, though, simplicity hides plenty of detail and fine engineering. The danger of being scammed, however, means it is more important than ever to know how to spot a fake CH07 Shell Chair

Danger of Fakes

This blog has been over the dangers of fakes before, so we won’t bother repeating all that. Just remember that even when people market these bits of furniture as replicas, they are still fakes. Apart from the ethical and moral questions about stealing other people’s ideas, they never come with the same quality assurance that is there with the real thing. 

You might save a bob or two now, but if you shell out on a fake chair and end out flat on the floor because it has broken under you, you may be shell-shocked, but you’ll have no redress. It’s that simple. 

Instead, let’s look at the chair itself, what makes it special and how to spot the giveaways that allow you to shop in confidence.

The Shell is Smiles Better

It’s easy to see the appeal of the shell chair. Its design means it is always sporting the world’s biggest grin. Just imagine walking into a room to be greeted by a smile from every chair. You know that when you land in each one’s welcoming embrace, a comfortable rest is coming your way. 

At the same time, that appeal also makes it a tempting target for forgers, and that makes it even more important that you know how to spot that fake CH07 Hans Wegner Shell Chair. The appearance of simplicity might also tempt some people into believing they can reproduce it without too much of a drop in quality. 

The shell chair looks like a cheerful work of art. It is Hans Wegner at his most architectural, producing an ornament for people’s public rooms that also happens to be truly functional. There is no genuine paradox.

Comfort by design

Hans Wegner, one of the leaders of the Scandinavian design revolution that started in the 1950s. This individual design comes from 1963, when he was already an established figure. Unlike most of his iconic designs, it was not an instant hit; the public took a bit of time to warm to a design that turned out to be a long way ahead of its time.

There was some controversy about it, and it was not until Carl Hansen re-released the design in 1998 that the CH07 Shell Chair really took off. It started not only to sell but also harvested a good crop of design awards. 

You can see that Hans Wegner himself took time to nail down all the final details. The original drawings showed a chair with a squared-off sheet of wood with a slight downward curve along the top for the back. By the time the prototypes were being put together, that had developed into the current rounded shape with a slight taper from the base to the top. 

The legs evolved too. The original designs showed the two units each made from a single piece of wood – there’s one at the back and front two are a single unit. By the time the chair went into production, that had changed into twin pieces. They are attached through most of their length, but have an artistic gap at the top where they arch from supporting the frame and loop round into the legs.

Hans Wegner tilted the seat so that the back is lower than the front. This makes the chair extra comfortable. It means that instead of all the sitter’s weight being all on their hips and thighs, the backrest also does its share of the work. 

Spotting a Fake

If you are buying a new piece from a reputable dealer, then you don’t have to worry too much about authenticity. They will deal directly with Carl Hansen, the manufacturer, and ship directly from the factory. Quality and all the rest of the benefits of buying the real thing come built into the deal.

There are circumstances, however, where everything is less clear-cut. You do need to know how to spot a fake CH07 Hans Wegner Shell Chair. Buying second hand is the most likely, but there are other circumstances where it will be useful to know. 

Your first guide is to give the chair a quick once-over. Does the workmanship and the quality of the materials look the part? If not, you can probably save yourself a bit of hassle and walk away. Carl Hansen takes justifiable pride in the skill and quality of their craftspeople. The company would never let shoddy work leave the factory. 

You should also check the materials used. They will be top quality. The manufacturers make the panels for the seat and back with form-pressed wood veneer. The legs are solid oak, walnut, or beech. They take pains to slightly round-off the edges. Only fakes have hard edges. Carl Hansen only uses top quality leather or fabric over hard-wearing foam for the upholstery.

Look at the Detail

The next thing to do is examine the product in detail. A tape measure can help. Every chair is 74 cm (29.1 inches) high, 92 cm (36.2 inches) wide and 83 cm (32.6 inches) deep. The seat sits 35 cm (13.8 inches) off the ground. If those measurements don’t match the item in front of you, it isn’t genuine.

Fakers know this though and will try to get things like that right. If they are really trying to fool people, they will also pay attention to other giveaway details, such as the four bolts you should be able to find on the rear of the backrest.

On the other side, there should not be visible bolts on the underside of the seat. If there are, you’re looking at a fake, but even if they are not there, it might just be that the faker is clever.

Then, check the legs. Again, some fakers will get this right, but many won’t. The curve of the front legs should fit the shape of the seat precisely, and the gap at the top of the arch should look planned and artistic. It takes a lot of time, effort, and skill to get these spot-on, and fakers are usually more worried about speed. Feel free to download some pictures of the real thing so that you have a reference point to go on. 

Labels are important

The biggest giveaway to spot a fake CH07 Hans Wegner Shell Chair is also the most obvious. Carl Hansen has its own trademarked logo. They don’t just put a label on every piece, but there is also a serial number on the plaque on the underside of every chair. 

That reference number is unique and, if necessary, you can use it to trace the chair and establish its history. If you ever needed to get work done on the chair, it would be vital.

In a Nutshell

To sum up: it may feel a little counterintuitive to be looking for protection when you are about to be the proud owner of your very own shell, but it makes sense. Its apparent simplicity means you really need to know how to spot a fake CH07 Hans Wegner Shell Chair. The real thing is a valuable acquisition that will last a lifetime. The fakes are neither valuable nor long-lasting. Look for the giveaway signs and even buying second hand you can give yourself some guarantees. Ignore them and you might get shell-shocked. 

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