Dezeen Magazine

Muji manufactured by Thonet

Japanese brand Muji and German furniture manufacturers Thonet have collaborated to produce two collections of tubular steel and bent wood furniture.


The tubular steel series (above and below) was created by designer Konstantin Grcic and comprises a chair and desk in three sizes.


Three polypropylene drawers can be suspended beneath the MDF table top.


The beech, bent wood collection (above and below) was designed by Milan-based, British designer James Irvine (creative director of Thonet) and features a single panel supporting the back of the chair, which aligns with the accompanying table top.


Both designs are Launched in the UK today.


Here's some text from Muji:


“MUJI manufactured by THONET”

“In all the world, only the Thonet factory in Germany is capable of producing bentwood and steel pipe furniture of this quality.” Masaaki
Kanai, President and Representative Director of Ryohin Keikaku Co., Ltd. (MUJI)


“Muji manufactured by THONET” is a collection of simplified, stylised Thonet designs made of bentwood and tubular steel, manufactured to Thonet’s customary high standards at their Frankenberg HQ and available exclusively at Muji stores in Japan, Germany, Paris and the UK.


There are plans to enhance the collection in the near future. Both Muji and Thonet have collaborated with international designers in the past. What is ground breaking for both companies is their decision to work together with named designers to reinterpret important design masterpieces from Thonet’s historic back catalogue, making them accessible to a younger, broader, “Muji” marketplace.


By uniting the design heritage, skilled craftsmanship and manufacturing capabilities of Thonet with the streamlined design aesthetic of Muji, not to mention its youthful, design savvy audience, beautiful designs gain new relevance for today’s modern, urban lifestyle. The beech bentwood collection takes Thonet’s most famous bentwood chair, No. 14, as its inspiration. (This design – now called the 214 chair - still features in the Thonet collection, this year celebrating its 150th birthday.)


Milan based English designer, James Irvine, now Creative Director at Thonet, exploits the beauty of the curved lines of the original chair design, adding a simple, horizontal panel to support the back. The seat of the chair is constructed of either wood or mesh. The new MUJI No. 14 chair is robust, yet so light you can virtually lift it with one finger. When placed next to the corresponding dining table, which is available in 2 sizes to seat either 4 or 6, the back panel merges with the tabletop, leaving only the elegant line of the bentwood visible.


The second collection, designed by German designer and graduate of the Royal College of Art, Konstantin Grcic, celebrates Thonet’s tubular steel furniture tradition, dating back to the Bauhaus designers of the 1920’s. An iconographic cantilever chair with tubular steel frame and plywood seat shell, reminiscent of designs like Breuer’s B 32, is created with the image in mind of “sitting on air”. Its clean, simple lines and functional flexibility will introduce the effortless style and timeless beauty of the period to a new, contemporary audience. To team with the chair, Grcic has designed a tubular steel desk with dark grey MDF tabletop, available in 3 sizes. A suspended shelf accommodating 3 polypropylene drawers is an optional addition to the desk and a low table, also in 3 sizes, with optional shallow suspended shelf complete the collection.


In line with strict environmental policies of both companies, materials and manufacturing processes have been carefully selected both for their minimal impact on the environment and for their cost. Whilst quality remains a key priority in the development of these designs, accessibility is paramount. These are investment pieces without the luxury price tag.


These are investment pieces without the luxury price tag. “MUJI manufactured by THONET” was unveiled at the Tokyo Design Week in November 2008 and went on sale exclusively at top Muji stores in Japan prior to Xmas 2008.


The collection will be available at the end of May in Muji stores in Germany and France, prior to arriving in the UK, where it will be available exclusively at Muji’s flagship store in Tottenham Court Road, London from August 2009. Pieces will be available to order on 6-8 weeks delivery. Prices start at £215.