An extremely vibrant monument
by Fabian Peters | 5/20/2019
200 years of design history – illustrated by 70 chairs made by a single company. Steffen Kehrle’s redesign highlights Munich’s Die Neue Sammlung’s Thonet collection.
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Thonet’s unprecedented success story started with the work of master joiner Michael Thonet (1796 – 1871). Since the opening of his first workshop in Boppard/Rhine the name Thonet – the most famous furniture brand worldwide – has represented superior quality as well as innovative and elegant furniture for private or professional use. Today the company is located in Frankenberg/Eder and is run as a family concern by Claus Thonet and his brothers Peter and Philipp – direct descendants of Michael Thonet. Famous bentwood and tubular-steel classics from the Bauhaus era are complemented with current Thonet designs by renowned contemporary designers such as Wulf Schneider, Alfredo Häberli, Christophe Marchand, Norman Foster, Delphin Design, Lepper Schmidt Sommerlade, Glen Oliver Löw, Piero Lissoni and James Irvine, who also fills the role of art director.
All the well-known bentwood and tubular-steel classics as well as the contemporary collections of Thonet are manufactured in Frankenberg. Thonet develops innovative products of superior quality and longevity using quality materials and simple forms. A recent success of Thonet is the design by the German contributor Stefan Diez: in his timber chair series 404 he uses – in best Thonet tradition – bentwood construction, but in this case the wood is modern molded plywood or hardwood. The 404 series uses a totally new type of construction. The seat becomes the connecting element for the legs and back support, the back support has a very pleasant ’give’ to it. Says Diez: „The history of Thonet, for me, is closely linked to the subject of three-dimensionality: this crazy idea of bending wood like this – it’s as if it has grown a second time.“