written by:
photos by:
July 20, 2009
Originally published in The City Life

It takes nine sheets of veneer, two layers of cotton backing, up to five coats of paint, and 11 days to make a 3107 chair. We take you to the floor of Fritz Hansen's stackable-chair factory to show you how it's done.

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  At the Fritz Hansen factory in Denmark, a worker inspects the paint finish of a Series 7 chair in front of a wall displaying just some of the wood and color options available.
    At the Fritz Hansen factory in Denmark, a worker inspects the paint finish of a Series 7 chair in front of a wall displaying just some of the wood and color options available.
  • 
  The Fritz Hansen factory in Denmark.
    The Fritz Hansen factory in Denmark.
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  A worker runs two strips of veneer through a machine that glues the edges together.
    A worker runs two strips of veneer through a machine that glues the edges together.
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  A cotton backing is added before the sheets are cut into their rough shapes.
    A cotton backing is added before the sheets are cut into their rough shapes.
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  The veneer is glazed with adhesive.
    The veneer is glazed with adhesive.
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  After the veneers are covered in glue, they are assembled into nine-sheet piles.
    After the veneers are covered in glue, they are assembled into nine-sheet piles.
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  The plywood pieces are fed into the factory's computer controlled machine (CCN, where they are cut into the signature Series 7 silhouette.
    The plywood pieces are fed into the factory's computer controlled machine (CCN, where they are cut into the signature Series 7 silhouette.
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  A hydraulic press molds the stacks into chair forms; the machines can do up to eight pieces at a time.
    A hydraulic press molds the stacks into chair forms; the machines can do up to eight pieces at a time.
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  Workers then sand the chair forms by hand.
    Workers then sand the chair forms by hand.
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  A machine attaches plastic discs to the undersides of the seats.
    A machine attaches plastic discs to the undersides of the seats.
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  A robotic arm paints the hanging chairs for optimum coverage.
    A robotic arm paints the hanging chairs for optimum coverage.
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  The legs are attached and one last inspection is done before the chairs are packed and shipped. Read the whole article here.
    The legs are attached and one last inspection is done before the chairs are packed and shipped. Read the whole article here.
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At the Fritz Hansen factory in Denmark, a worker inspects the paint finish of a Series 7 chair in front of a wall displaying just some of the wood and color options available.
At the Fritz Hansen factory in Denmark, a worker inspects the paint finish of a Series 7 chair in front of a wall displaying just some of the wood and color options available.

The most famous photo of Arne Jacobsen’s 3107 chair isn’t even of a real 3107. The iconic image, taken by Lewis Morley in 1963, depicts British knockout Christine Keeler naked astride a knockoff. The provocative pic propelled the molded-plywood chair to international fame, and sales—which had inched forward at a snail’s pace after the chair’s 1955 release—skyrocketed. Today, the company has sold nearly seven million Series 7 chairs, including the 3107, the dining-height model, making it Danish furniture manufacturer Fritz Hansen’s best-selling family of seats.

The 3107 Chair: Prep the Veneer

In the idyllic Danish countryside, 15 miles northwest of Copenhagen, autonomous robots transport pallets of veneer down the aisles of Fritz Hansen’s 161,000-square-foot chair factory.

The 3107 Chair: Glue and Mold

A worker then places single layers of inner veneer on a conveyor belt that sends them through what looks like a doughnut-glazing machine, coating both sides of the veneer with a white liquid…

The 3107 Chair: Cut and Sand

Once the plywood has hardened, a worker wearing sound-suppressing earmuffs places the pieces, three at a time, into the factory’s computer numerically controlled (CNC) machine.

The 3107 Chair: Paint and Ship

The discs also serve as hooks for hanging the chairs upside down on a conveyor belt that leads them to a glassed-in room. There, a robotic arm paints the curved surfaces with polyurethane paint.

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