If you’ve been reading this site for any amount of time you’ll know my strong interest in the design process and manufacturing methods, whether it be handmade or industrial. I think the general consensus from around the web is the consistent need to scatter our lives with physical objects, yet we know little about how they are made or any of the processes that go on behind the scenes. I guess as someone who’s designed objects myself, from furniture to ceramics, projects like this one by Thomas Feichtner get my heart racing a little. Especially seeing photographs of Thomas at the factory watching the craftsmen at work, alongside him showcasing the final concept on paper from early 2011. I think this is apparent across his whole portfolio, the fondness he has for the construction phase in general, always presenting the smaller details that others fail to recognise as significant.
This project was designed for one of the world’s oldest furniture producers, TON. In 1861 Michael Thonet established a factory to produce his synonymous bentwood furniture in Bistritz am Hostein, in what is now the Czech Republic. TON was established as a design brand which was part of the company’s restructuring after World War II, despite having numerous political upheavals and changing ownership structures, bentwood furniture production has continued right up to this day. Today’s TON is a relatively young Czech corporation, producing contemporary (and frequently award-winning) furniture in collaboration with established Czech and foreign designers. Although they’ve moved on as a company there’s still some links to the past, for example they still use some of the original machines and moulds to make the furniture.
Thomas Feichtner decided to play on this history, with the intention of uniting the methods used to produce bentwood and moulded wood for the first time in a single product, thus building a bridge between traditional and contemporary furniture design. Overall I think the TRAM chair is an iconic twist on the Thonet 209, which was favourite of architects like Le Corbusier and Mart Stam. Hopefully you like it too and will check out more projects by Feichtner on his website linked below.