Milan 2013:Â Austrian designer Thomas Feichtner has steam-bent and laminated wood to create a chairÂ for Czech furniture brand TON.
The legs and back rest are steam-bent into shape by clamping cylindrical wooden poles in metal moulds atÂ the same factory that Thonet's iconic bent-wood chairs were made.
The laminated-wood seat shells are supported underneath by two braces, which also connect the legs.
Three bent poles form the legs and back support for the seat, with the option of adding a fourth rod with six kinks that wraps round the chair to form armrests.
Feichtner's chairs were named for their likeness to the plastic seats on the trams in Prague.
Colours available include dark, natural or white in a range of woods, with potential to add cloth or leather upholstery.
Thomas Feichtner has also designed aÂ chair with the seat suspended in a cubic oak frame and a chandelier with a single crystal, which he describes in this movie we filmed.
Thomas Feichtner sent us the following information:
Furniture producer TON is a piece of Czech-Austrian industrial and design historyâas well as one of the worldâs oldest furniture producers. ItÂ was back in 1861 that the Viennese entrepreneur Michael Thonet established a factory to produce his synonymous bentwood furniture inÂ Bistritz am Hostein (todayâs BystĹice pod HostĂ˝nem), in what is now the Czech Republic. This was to be Thonetâs largest furniture productionÂ site. The company was nationalized one year after the conclusion of the Second World War. During the socialist era that ensued, it wasÂ called âTovĂĄrna ohĂ˝banĂŠho nĂĄbytku.â The initials of this name, which translates as âFactory for Bentwood Furniture,â still appear today in theÂ brandâs logo. TON was established as a design brand as part of the companyâs restructuring after the fall of the Iron Curtain. Despite havingÂ numerous political upheavals and changing ownership structures, bentwood furniture production has continued right up to the present dayâwithout interruption and even still using some of the original machines and molds. Except for felling the trees, the entire production processâfrom raw timber to finished productâtakes place in-house.
TONÂ todayÂ is producing contemporary (and frequently award-winning) furniture in collaboration with established Czech and foreign designers. This way TON isÂ giving the place of 150 years of bentwood production its honour back.
The Tram Chair arose from the TONâs most recent collaboration with the established Vienna-based product designer Prof. Thomas Feichtner.Â Feichtnerâs concept is strongly inspired by the companyâs time-honored production processes: first by the companyâs own plant for theÂ production of seat shells from moulded wood, and second by its longstanding factory for the production of classic bentwood. The intention wasÂ to unite the methods used to produce bentwood and moulded wood for the first time in a single product, thus building a bridge betweenÂ traditional and contemporary furniture design. Even just the way in which the bentwood braces are connected indicates the finished productâsÂ origin. On the other hand, the Tram Chair also features a few constructional innovations. The support for the seat shell, for instance, doesÂ double-duty as a connection between the legs. The chair thus needs no further bracing, in contrast to classic bentwood models. Though thisÂ chairâs design is quite deliberate, its name came about as more of an accident. Employees of TON were quick to jokingly dub this model theÂ âtram chairâ due to its similarity to the plastic seats on the trams in Prague. Feichtner then decided to keep this charming working title as theÂ productâs name.
The Tram Chair will see its first public presentation at the 2013 Milan Furniture Fair. It will be offered for sale with and without armrests, withÂ cloth or leather upholstery, and in various colors and types of wood.