Skip to main content

Posts Tagged ‘Mart Stam’

(smow) blog compact: aed Stuttgart present Zukunftslabor Weißenhofsiedlung

Erected in 1927 in context of the Deutscher Werkbund exhibition “Die Wohnung” the Weißenhofsiedlung in Stuttgart aimed to achieve “…. a reduction in house construction and running costs, in addition to a simplification of housework and a general improvement in living standards

But did it?

Or is it just a collection of buildings by Max Taut, Hans Poelzig, Mies van der Rohe, Le Corbusier, Mart Stam, Peter Behrens and their ilk? A chance for a close connected group of modernists to show off?

On Wednesday September 17th in the course of a specially organised tour through and around the estate and museum art historian Carola Franke-Höltzermann and Anja Krämer from the Weißenhof Museum will elucidate on the history, impact and legacy of both the Weißenhofsiedlung and “Die Wohnung” in general before Jonathan Busse from Stuttgart based heating system developer alphaEOS and Dr Christian Bergmann from Werner Sobek Design introduce the Weißenhofsiedlung’s latest addition: the B10 Active House. A construction which for us stands very much in the tradition, and indeed hope, of the original exhibition.

The aed Stuttgart tour “Zukunftslabor Weißenhofsiedlung” takes place on Wednesday 17th September at 7pm. All are welcome, but advance registration is requested. It goes without saying the tour will be in German.

Full details can be found at

weissenhofsiedlung stuttgart Ludwig Mies van der Rohe Jacobus Johannes Pieter Oud

Contributions from Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (l) and Jacobus Johannes Pieter Oud (r), Weissenhofsiedlung Stuttgart

weissenhofsiedlung stuttgart mart stam

Houses by Mart Stam, Weissenhofsiedlung Stuttgart

B10 Active House by Werner Sobeck Stuttgart

B10 Active House by Werner Sobeck, Weissenhofsiedlung Stuttgart

(smow) blog compact IMM Cologne Special: Thonet

Our coverage of IMM Cologne 2014 may be reaching its conclusion, but we still have a few gleaming gems to bring you, the brightest of which was to be found on the Thonet stand: the new S 1200 desk by Randolf Schott from and with the Thonet Design Team.

While classic Thonet desks such as Marcel Breuer’s S 285 can work very well in a contemporary home office and/or as an informal place of work in a living room, they do bring with them a certain formal heaviness owing to their abstraction from the more traditional, quadratic, wooden furniture that Marcel Breuer and his Bauhaus cohorts were moving away from, but couldn’t quite free themselves from.

With the S 1200 Thonet and Randolf Schott have moved the genre on and developed an object that bequeaths bent steel tubing a new lightness, a new informality.

While unquestionably owing its provenance to Marcel Breuer’s innumerate bent steel tube tables, the S 1200 is much more accessible, largely we feel on account of the gentle gradient of the inward leaning front leg, a feature that makes the S 1200 less rigid, less dominant. Warmer. Coupled to the practical foot rest bar and even more practical double level desk top, this formal accessibility make the S 1200 a very inviting place to sit and work. Or, if you’re like us, to just sit. Looking out the window. Dreaming your brilliant career away.

Although the S 1200 frame could, theoretically, have been bent from one single piece of steel tubing, it has been formed from two. The simple reason is that chrome-plating one massive piece would have been all-but infeasible. The foot rest, somewhat naturally, was always intended as an extra piece and has been attached to the frame via a specially developed joint – not welded as we initially thought, but carefully and exactly attached.

All in all a very impressive object and a very welcome addition to the Thonet family.

Complimenting the desk Thonet have created a series of accessories; a bookrest, filing tray and what Thonet refer to as a pencil box, but which in reality is a multi-purpose storage box that has been designed to ensure that should you want to use it to store your phone while charging it, the cable passes unobtrusively and neatly through a slit the corner. And in terms of cable management a special mention must go the – patented – magnetic clip cable management system that attaches to legs. For who wants to ruin the simple beauty of bent steel tubing with the wires that haunt our modern, oh so mobile, reality.

Being a contemporary product the S 1200 comes in a range of pastel colours; as now do further bent steel tube objects from the Thonet portfolio including Mart Stam‘s S 43 classic chair and Marcel Breuer’s B 9 and the Thonet B 97 side table series. Not available in coloured steel tubing, yet every bit as appealing, are the new glass versions of the B 9 and B 97 series – objects that add a dignified decadence to the reserved charm of the wood versions.

Elsewhere a more than notable mention must go to the new S 290 programme by Sabine Hutter from and with the Thonet Design Team. A free standing, steel tube, sideboard system, the S 290 programme is composed of four base elements which can be used individually or joined to create an extended unit. That the units cannot be stacked vertically the S 290 is not modular in the formal definition of the term, but is if you prefer a more relaxed interpretation. And regardless how one defines it, as a flexible sideboard system for home or office the S 290 is an important, and worthy, addition to the Thonet programme.

Its not easy being Thonet. Having revolutionised furniture design twice, everyone is waiting for the next. IMM Cologne didn’t provide that, but did delightfully show that in design further development is always possible. And often desirable. In our Orgatec 2012 interview with Antonio Citterio he told us that he likes to continually develop his projects, to tinker as it were, create something new from something existing, however he emphasised, “I don’t want to develop something so that the previous version becomes old or outdated. It should just be another option.

This spirit was very much in evidence on the Thonet stand at IMM Cologne 2014.

And we liked that.

A few impressions:

(smow) blog compact IMM Cologne Special Thonet S 1200 desk Randolf Schott Thonet Design Team

The S 1200 desk by Randolf Schott / Thonet Design Team for Thonet, as seen at IMM Cologne 2014

(smow) blog compact IMM Cologne Special Thonet Mart Stam S 43 colour

The S 43 Classic by Mart Stam through Thonet – in colour, as seen at IMM Cologne 2014

(smow) blog compact IMM Cologne Special Thonet S 290 by Sabine Hutter Thonet Design Team

The S 290 programme by Sabine Hutter / Thonet Design Team for Thonet, as seen at IMM Cologne 2014

(smow) blog compact IMM Cologne Special Thonet S 290 Sabine Hutter Thonet Design Team

The S 290 programme by Sabine Hutter / Thonet Design Team for Thonet, as seen at IMM Cologne 2014

Celebrating 5 years (smow) online. Thonet join the party…..

There are only very few furniture manufacturers who can claim to have been major players in two fundamental furniture design revolutions.

Thonet is one of them.

And if we’re honest, the only one we can currently name.

Although the Thonet story begins in 1819, the story only really begins to “pick up steam” in 1859 when Michael Thonet perfected his warm wood bending process. The result of over twenty years development, heartbreak, experimentation, bankruptcy, fleeting success and brutal failure, Michael Thonet’s steam based process allowed him to bend solid beech to produce straightforward, every day, wooden chairs simply and at an affordable price.

And so initiate the industrial production of furniture.

Michael Thonet’s most famous model is without question his Chair 14, today called Chair 214, an object universally known and admired as the archetypal Viennese Coffee House Chair. And as an elegant example of how uncomplicated good chair design can be.

Just as ingenious as the wood bending process was Michael Thonet’s decision to sell and ship Chair 14 as a flat pack system, as six elements that could be assembled by any fool, regardless of technical competence – in effect the prototype of all contemporary flat pack furniture distribution models. Swedish or otherwise.

The ability to pack 36 dismantled chairs into a 1 sqm crate allowed Thonet to ship his chairs around the globe and so establish a business that in 1912 was producing some two million items a year.

Today the frames of Thonet classics such as the Chair 214, Michael Thonet’s 209 from 1900 or his 233 from 1895, are still bent by hand, one at a time, in a machine in the company’s Frankenberg (Eder) base that looks more like a relic of some especially unpleasant medieval torture ritual than something for creating some of the most exquisite and important chairs ever developed.

Auf Biegen und Brechen Thonet

Bending solid beech. Just as Michael Thonet once did.....

Some sixty years after the breakthrough with the bent wood, Thonet achieved a parallel success through bending a new material: new for Thonet and new for furniture design in general. Steel tubing.

Through close contact with designers and architects including Mart Stam, Marcel Breuer, Mies van der Rohe and Le Corbusier, Thonet were perfectly placed to observe the new mood sweeping 1920s Europe. And through their experience in bending wood, equally perfectly placed to help this new generation of designers transform their new ideas into a new reality.

After acquiring Marcel Breuer’s Standard Möbel Furniture Company in 1929, Thonet set about developing the first industrial methods for bending steel tubing, and after an initial period of public distrust – think about, for example, the views expressed in How to live in Flat by W. Heath Robinson and K. R. G. Browne – objects such as Mart Stam’s S 43 cantilever chair and S 33 cantilever chair or Marcel Breuer’s S 285 desk and B 9 stacking tables established themselves as popular classics. Or perhaps better put, as enduring popular classics.

And confirmed Thonet’s position as one of the most important, innovative and reliable furniture manufacturers in Europe.

Today the company, thankfully, doesn’t rest on it laurels and through co-operations with designers of the calibre of Stefan Diez, Delphin Design or Jehs+Laub remains one of Europe’s premier contemporary designer furniture producers.

They may not have been responsible for a third revolution. But we’re not ruling out that they will be.

And as part of (smow)’s fifth birthday celebrations you can benefit from a 5% discount on all Thonet orders placed between Friday October 25th 2013 and Thursday October 31st 2013 inclusive.
Full details can be found at

And should you need inspiration, check out our Thonet pinterest board.

Auf Biegen und Brechen Michael Thonet

Biegen oder Brechen. Michael Thonet the father of all wood benders.


Bauhaus Archiv Berlin Stühle ohne Beine: Interview with Prof. Dr. Florian Hufnagl

On March 20th the Bauhaus Archiv Berlin opened their spring exhibition “Stühle ohne Beine – Chairs without legs”

Dedicated to the development and diversity of the cantilever chair, Stühle ohne Beine is a fairly simple exhibition concept with an equally simple message: designing a chair without legs doesn’t mean limiting your possibilities. Less is more not being just a design maxim but also a design challenge.

Featuring 25 chairs from the collection of Die Neue Sammlung – The International Design Museum Munich, Stühle ohne Beine is not only the Bauhaus Archiv Berlin’s first co-operation with Die Neue Sammlung but also, if we understood correctly, the inaugural exhibition in a new “As Guest at Bauhaus Archiv Berlin” series that will see various international museums invited to present a specially curated show in the German capital.

At the exhibition opening we spoke with Florian Hufnagl, Director of Die Neue Sammlung about the history, development and importance of the cantilever chair.

(smow)blog: Starting as it were at the beginning. There was, and is still, disagreement over who “discovered” the cantilever chair. Is the dispute still relevant or is the only relevant point that it was discovered?

Florian Hufnagl: I believe it is still important today because it was the first dispute over design to be dealt with by a court. And not only did they categorically decided in favour of Mart Stam, but also clearly defined Marcel Breuer‘s role. And such a definitive and clear resolution of such a dispute is still important for today’s designers as, at least here in Europe, it brings them a degree of security.

(smow)blog: And for you was the decision the correct one?

Florian Hufnagl: Yes, yes the decision was conclusive and correct.

(smow)blog: The first cantilever chairs were very much a product of their era….

Florian Hufnagl: … yes and that was the major change. The big incision. In the 20th century there were only three major breaks: once at the turn of the century with Josef Hoffmann, then, very generally speaking, the second half of the 1920s and again from 1968-70. These were the moments in design when one detached from what had come before and set off on new, brave, paths which in terms of cantilever chairs meant a few broken chairs and, literal, hard landings for some designers, but then “no risk no fun”. And so it took a bit of time before developments moved on, but if you don’t go to the limits you won’t proceed.

(smow)blog: And so specifically with the cantilever chair, can one identify a moment when it became a successful mass market concept?

Florian Hufnagl: As with many objects from Bauhaus era the popularity really took off after the second world war, and especially during the 1960s.

(smow)blog: In that context there are a couple of plastic cantilever chairs from the DDR in the exhibition. Was the development of the plastic cantilever chair timeous for the DDR. So cheap, mass producible….?

Florian Hufnagl: There is a whole series of DDR cantilever designs and the aim was always cheap production, which of course was no different to the situation in West Germany, or for example Italy.We shouldn’t forget that firms such as Kartell were more or less forced to turned to plastics. And so it wasn’t just in the DDR that there was an ideological background to the decisions to produce value for money, bright, furniture for the modern youth. The DDR designs however always suffered in that the the shortage of raw materials was a ubiquitous problem and so whereas many products were conceived in the DDR only very few reached the public. Many products were produced instead in the West or in Russia.

(smow)blog: The original cantilever chairs were very much of their day in terms of materials. In how far do you think the cantilever chair offers designers today a platform with which they can experiment?

Florian Hufnagl: I think MYTO by Konstantin Grcic, created as it was in cooperation with BASF, a global concern who worked in a very focused manner in cooperation with a designer to take the development of a new material even further, that for me that is an excellent example of what is possible because today it’s a question of new materials. We need new materials not just in the context of producing certain products but in terms of solving the problem of sustainability because the products we produce must also be responsibly produced.

(smow)blog: In your opening address you said, in effect, that the chair has already been invented, but that wont stop producers presenting a few thousand “new” ones in Milan. As a museum director, director of a collection, what makes you stop in your tracks and take notice of something ?

Florian Hufnagl: For me the initial connection is always emotional. The same as with any other person observing the world around them. The emotional reaction can be because it is new, is different, does something that was until now unknown. And such objects are the overwhelming exceptions. Maybe half a chair from every 100.

(smow)blog: Which means you always travel to Milan with high hopes but return with an empty suitcase?

Florian Hufnagl: Yes, that happens often, although there are also occasional surprises. Which is all completely normal because the consumer world is getting bigger, the need for consumer goods is shrinking and real invention is rare. But that was also the case in the 20th century, it was the case in the 19th century and that’s why we have museums who pick out the best parts and so try to give us an orientation.

Stühle ohne Beine can be viewed at the Bauhaus Archiv Berlin until June 10th 2012.

Bauhaus Archiv Berlin Stühle ohne Beine

Bauhaus Archiv Berlin: Stühle ohne Beine

Bauhaus Archiv Berlin Stühle ohne Beine Alexander Begge

Children's Chair by Alexander Begge as seen at Stühle ohne Beine in the Bauhaus Archiv Berlin


Bauhaus Archiv Berlin Stühle ohne Beine mart stam gas pipe chair

Gas Pipe Chair by Mart Stam as seen at Stühle ohne Beine in the Bauhaus Archiv Berlin

Christmas is coming the goose is getting fat … gift ideas from House Thonet

If Christmas is a time for family, then Christmas is also surely a time to buy your gifts from a family business.

Currently being run by the 5th generation, Thonet have not only been responsible for the introduction and development of bent wood and steel tube furniture – two of the most important genres in the history of furniture design – but continue to support and develop young designers and so may just also discover the next big genre…..

The S 333 Thonet sledge by Holger Lange

The S 333 Thonet sledge by Holger Lange

Thonet S 333 by Holger Lange

Back in February while the (smow)boss was in a meeting with Nils Holger Moormann and his Moormänner in Aschau, we snuck up a near-by hill for some sledging fun with the Thonet S 333.

An experience we will never forget.

Not just because Holger Lange’s sledge goes like a rocket being chased by a pack of ferocious rocket powered dogs – but because steering is the Thonet S 333 is an art form that has to be learned before the first bend.

Fun, thrills and a genuine joy to use.

A sledge for adults the S 333 is proof that there is nothing boring and conservative about Thonet bent steel tubing.

S 43 by Mart Stam through Thonet - available in a range of colours

S 43 by Mart Stam through Thonet - available in a range of colours

Thonet S 43 Classic by Mart Stam

A further development of Mart Stam’s classic cantilever chair design the Thonet S 43 mixes plywood with steel tubing to produce an unmistakable, reduced design that works just as well at a desk as at a dinning table. The S 43 is not only one of the most recognised works of the Bauhaus era, it is also one of the most copied. In 2009, however, a court in Düsseldorf decided that being a work of visual art rather than a piece of industrial design the S 43 was still under copyright and consequently could only be (re)produced by the license holder: Thonet. There are cheaper illegal copies out there, however none posses the quality of craftsmanship nor the visual unity of the Thonet original. The Thonet S 43 by Mart Stam is available in a range of woods and colours.

Thonet B 117

Thonet B 117

Thonet B 117 by Thonet

The thing that one must always remember about Thonet is that they began producing and trading in an era before furniture designers and industrial designers. As such a lot of the products in the Thonet archive were created by the Thonet in-house design team. Such as the B 117 side table. With its “floating” drawer unit and reduced form the Thonet B 117 is not only a classic example of early 1930s design but is a design that remains as contemporary and relevant today as then. Created from tubular steel and stained beach the B 177 can be beautifully employed , for example,  as a bedside table, hall table or an additional IT office table.

The Thonet 214 Minature by Vitra

The Thonet 214 Minature by Vitra

Thonet 214 by Michael Thonet (Miniature) from Vitra

The Thonet 214 is not only the chair that initiated commercial furniture production, nor is it only the chair that paved the way for Swedish gentlemen to open large warehouses next to every motorway in Europe, nor is it only the chair that almost broke Michael Thonet. The 214 is all of these things. And the Vitra Design Museum Thonet 214 Miniature is all of these things in 1:6 scale. And as such is the perfect gift for all connoisseurs of good design.

Garden Furniture: Top 5

On several occasions in the past month we have repeatedly seen a similar scene.

A scene that has made us cry.

Lovely houses, truly wonderful, carefully considered constructions in idyllic locations – and then in the garden, furniture that the owners have obviously bought, possibly as an after thought, from their local garden centre.

Just looking at some of the chairs made our upper thighs go numb from discomfort.

And as for that recliner yesterday in Berlin!!!!

People, gardens are there to be enjoyed.

Gardens are there to serve as dens of tranquility from the harsh realities of life.

Gardens should not cause injury, far less resemble a middle ages torture chamber.

Good quality designer garden furniture is available. And isn’t hard to find.

Here is our top five for summer 2010.

Tivoli Chair by Verner Panton through Montana: the colours of summer

Tivoli Chair by Verner Panton

Tivoli chair by Verner Panton

Panton’s fist commercially successful product may owe much of its success to Verner Panton’s father installing it in his restaurant; but that is not to detract from the the quality of the Panton’s design nor that of Montana’s construction. Available in a wonderful range of colours Tivoli chair by Verner Panton is guaranteed to brighten up any garden or terrace.

S 43 teak by Thonet

S 43 teak by Thonet

S 43 teak from Thonet

Mart Stams classic steel tube chair in an outdoor version. Available with or without armrests the S43 teak from Thonet allows you to take your Bauhaus living and dining room out into the garden.

Vegetal from Vitra

Vegetal from Vitra

Vegetal by Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec

Four years of development with all the resources an established designer furniture company such as Vitra can provide has to produce something a little extra special. Despite appearances to the contrary Vegetal by Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec is a delightfully comfortable seat: comfortable as in terms of seating comfort and comfortable as in terms of stability.

Shadylace by Chris Kabel for droog

Shadylace by Chris Kabe

Shadylace by Chris Kabel

Although, curiously not available in oranje Shadylace by Chris Kabel for droog is one of the better ways to ensure that you always have a shady corner from which to spy on your neighbours and envy their garden architecture talents.

Cobb Grill

Cobb Grill

Cobb Grill

And once you’ve got the furniture you need to be able to cook: otherwise you’ll need to go back indoors. With it’s cool outer walls and large range of accessories the Cobb grill is not a classic barbecue grill but a complete enclosed cooking system. With which you can also grill. Or cook pizzas. or bake a cake.

new at (smow): Müller Möbelfabrikation

Trolley RW 103 from Muller Mobelfabrikation

Trolley RW 103 from Muller Mobelfabrikation

As you know we here at smow(blog) aren’t fans of complicated designer furniture.

Really aren’t.

Less is more – so the grand theologian of post-war European design Dieter Rams – and let form follow function.

That’s us.

A side table or bedside unit need, normally, do nothing more than support a cup, glass or magazine.

Now you could add numerous extras to your table or you could – as with Müller Möbelfabrikation – bend some steel into the shape you want.

In 1926 Mart Stam bent some steel and got a chair.

In 1953 Egon Eiermann welded some steel and got a table frame.

Muller Mobelfabrikation - hand crafted steel furniture

Muller Mobelfabrikation - hand-crafted steel furniture

And today Müller Möbelfabrikation bend steel and produce wonderfully, elegant and practical tables and units.

Available in a fantastic range of colours, the mobile range from Müller Möbelfabrikation is produced in Germany from 3mm thick steel plate, come with lockable castors and are sturdy enough to be used a seat.
Should the need arise.

Full details can be found at the (smow) Müller Möbelfabrikation page.

Happy Safer Internet Day 2010 – Think before you Post

Safer Internet Day 2010

Safer Internet Day 2010

9th February 2010, Brussels

Under the motto “Think before you Post” the from the EU funded  Safer Internet Day 2010 is focused primarily on how one deals with privacy in the internet, especially as concerns young people, photos, social networking sites and chatrooms.

Which is naturally a positive thing.

In essence one of the core reasons that people for all kids, run into problems on the internet is because they blindly believe everything they read.

Previously “the camera never lied”, we know now they can; and so we have transferred our faith in the internet.

But it does as well.

And not just children are naive in their relationship with the internet.
Many adult internet users are, psychologically, at an earlier development stage than most children when it comes to computers and modern technology.

Alone the regularity with which users are taken in by so-called “phising” emails illustrates how many adults simply do not understand the risks that can hide behind a little bit HTML or a clever flash graphic.

The webpage looks nice – it must be genuine.

Mart Stam copies awaiting collection... Bauhaus era products are amongst the most copied designer furniture classics

Mart Stam copies awaiting collection... Bauhaus era products are amongst the most copied designer furniture classics

One of the areas that has blossomed over the internet is the trade in illegal copies of designer furniture classics; for all Bauhaus classics and the works of Charles and Ray Eames.

And regardless how often warnings are given thousands of consumers waste their money – and all too often risk their health – by purchasing the cheap copies.

There are however a few pointers that can help you identify who is genuine and who is only looking to make a quick buck at your expense.

As a general rule the copies are described as being “inspired by” or “in the tradition of” the actual designer: That is assuming that the designers name or the producer is even named; for if the crooks don’t use names, it’s more difficult for the license holder to press charges.

Generic names provide safety for the criminals: but also a large clue for the consumers.

The second big clue is the price.

If the price is too cheap to be true – it’s probably an illegal copy.

There are reasons that some designer furniture pieces cost what they do – and they’re not all to do with greed.

In addition to the investment in the development process necessary to bring such a product on the market; designer furniture is made from durable, expensive, materials. Which is also your guarantee of a quality product that should outlive you and possibly even your children.

The cheap copy may not even see the week out.

The third test is the answers you receive from the customer service department. If the retailer is selling officially licensed products they can prove that and will have no problem providing full answers to questions. The crooks will duck and dive and assure you that all is OK…without being able to back it up.

(smow) only sells officially licensed products from producers such as Vitra, Kartell, Artemide, ClassiCon or Tecta.

Beware of illegal Eames Lounge Chair copies

Beware of illegal Eames Lounge Chair copies!!! (these are however legal artworks, made from Vitra originals....)

And have no problem answering questions and providing proof that the products are genuine.

An interesting side-project of Safer Internet Day is the cooperation with INHOPE, the International Association of Internet Hotlines.

INHOPE acts as a central registration point for reporting websites with illegal content.
Again principally geared towards protecting children in the internet, there is no reason why users cannot report websites offering illegal copies of designer furniture.

Or perhaps better, tell us.
Should you discover a website offering illegal copies of designer furniture classics let us know, and we’ll not only report them to the responsible authorities but also build a databank of such sites to help consumers shop safely.
And then hopefully we can all have an even happier Safer Internet Day 2011

Vitra, Thonet and the art of designer furniture

EA 107 by Charles and Ray Eames for Vitra

EA 107 by Charles and Ray Eames for Vitra

In the past week three independent events have occurred which fuse together in one important tale.

Firstly, while visiting a student flat in Dresden the (smow)boss noticed an obviously well used, but functioning chair reminiscent of the EA 107 by Charles and Ray Eames for Vitra. Despite assuming it to be a copy – student flat, Dresden, etc… – his professional curiosity got the better of him and  thought he’d better check .. and Lo and Behold it was an original EA 107 by Charles and Ray Eames from Vitra

The lucky recipient had inherited it from his grandfather, without ever knowing it’s real value; although fully appreciating the sitting comfort.

Mart Stam copies awaiting collection...

Mart Stam copies awaiting collection...

Contrast that scene with what greeted us the other morning as we walked past a prominent office block complex here in Leipzig: two obvious copies of the S 33 by Mart Stam from Thonet in the rubbish bins

So sad….

We’ll save you the pictures of the cracked and sagging faux leather seating, but the distressing point is that some company thought they could save a few euros by buying cheap on-line … and now have no chairs.

And the money is also long since gone.

This week also came the written judgement from Oberlandesgericht Düsseldorf in the case of Thonet against an Italian producer of Mart Stam copies, in particular the S 43 cantilever chair.

S 43 by Mart Stam through Thonet - officially a work of art

S 43 by Mart Stam through Thonet - officially a work of art

The court decided that being a work of visual art the S 43 is still protected by copyright, and, as such, can only be produced by the licence holder; namely, Thonet.
Aside from this judicial confirmation that Mart Stam’s work is art, the judges decicison should also further protect consumers from low quality copies.

For those whose disposed chairs we found, it’s all a little late, but for those who are considering investing in designer furniture the lessons are clear.

With an original licensed product, yes you pay a little more up front but with the extra money comes the peace of mind that rather than finding it’s way into the bin, the article will find it’s way to the next generation. And possibly also the next.

(smow)offline: Bauhaus. A Conceptual Model

Bauhaus signet

Bauhaus signet

We’re just a touch late with this one, but since July 22nd the Martin Gropius Bau in Berlin has been showing the exhibition “Bauhaus. A Conceptual Model“.

For the first time, the three German Bauhaus institutions – Bauhaus-Archiv Berlin, Museum für Gestaltung, Stiftung Bauhaus Dessau and Klassik Stiftung Weimar – are uniting to present a comprehensive Bauhaus retrospective. “Bauhaus. A Conceptual Model” recounts the story of the Bauhaus in a comprehensive presentation of the works of its masters and students – including a number of lesser known and not regularly displayed works. In addition the exhibition looks at principles that dominated the school and it’s work: inter-disciplinary, experimental teaching, the concept of practice-oriented workshops, the pursuit of answers to social questions, the propagation of timeless aesthetics as well as experimentation with new procedures and materials in architecture and design.

S 43F Classic by Mart Stam through Thonet. A classic of Bauhaus design.

S 43F Classic by Mart Stam through Thonet. A classic of Bauhaus design.

Few movements have left such a lasting impression on furniture design as Bauhaus from it’s short inter-war intermezzo.

Designs such as Mart Stams cantilever chair, the Bauhaus Lamp from Wilhelm Wagenfeld or the „Wassily“ chair by Marcel Breuer stand as testament to the quality and ingenuity of those involved. In addition popular (smow) products such as the Eiermann table frame or the new Eileen Gray range from ClassiCon have their roots firmly in Bauhaus and the approach to design and functionality that was developed there.

Eileen Gray (1878 -1976) Didn't Bauhaus but had close contacts with the protagonists

Eileen Gray (1878 -1976) Didn't attend Bauhaus, but had very close contacts with the protagonists

We’ve not seen “Bauhaus. A Conceptual Model” , however for the organisers “the early works of the Bauhaus masters are highlights. They document why Feininger, Klee, Kandinsky et al were summoned to the school as masters. Works by masters and students created during their sojourn at the Bauhus demonstrate the fast-paced creative development of the school. Among other objects, the “Gropius Folder” can be seen, which was presented to the director of the Bauhaus as a birthday gift in 1924. The visitor will be amazed by the “African Chair”, created and constructed by Marcel Breuer and the weaving artist Gunta Stölzl in 1921. For eighty years it was assumed to have been lost, and is quite contradictory to Breuer’s wide reputation as the designer of the steel tube furniture. Breuer’s first “Club chair” from 1926 can also be seen, as well as Johannes Itten’s four-metre-high “Tower of Fire” from 1920. The “Draft of a socialist city” by Reinhold Rossig and the “Bauhaus Dress” by Lis Vogler from 1928 are exemplary representatives of the unknown works that originated in the workshops.”

Which sounds fantastic

If your in or near Berlin, Germany the exhibition “Bauhaus. A Conceptual Model” runs until October 4 and is open daily. More information at

Top of page