Thonet chairs are the classic and quintessential french cafe chair. We have been looking at them in french films, paintings and restaurants forever. Particularly the No.14--it was created in 1862, and by 1930 almost 50 million had been sold. Le Corbusier said "Never has anything been created more elegant and better in its conception, more precise in its execution, and more excellently functional."
The bentwood chair frames have lasted forever but the seats, made of cane, are the weakest link and often need replacement. Finding six old chairs in a basement, all in need of new seats, was the inspiration for The Thonet Project. Six designers set out to explore replacement seat solutions, which developed into an examination of the re-use and recycling of consumer goods in our world. More pictures after the fold...
Each designer approached the challenge in a different way. One made a new seat out of plywood and laser-etched a narrative of its known locations over the last hundred years (pictured).
One proposed a seat and four coffee cups all made out of ceramic.
One designer put a round mirror into the circular frame of the seat. Realising that it was not comfortable and did not continue the chair's function, he made a base of brass, plating it with nickel, and polished it up.
The fourth was covered with paper, in a sort of folded origami arrangement that would distribute and carry the weight of a person. Another covered it in leather, reinterpreting the original seats. The sixth comes with arms and has a seat that whistles when sat upon. :: The Thonet Project
More on London Design Festival
:: Chair Survey at 2007 Design Festival