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|THE THONET No14 CHAIR - DESIGN EXAMINATION QUESTION - PART 1|
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|Why is Michael Thonet regarded as an influential designer ?|
Michael Thonet (1796-1871), born in Germany, was a designer specialising in ‘bentwood’. This is furniture manufactured from veneers of natural woods, normally beech. Over many years, he developed manufacturing processes, whereby veneers (layers) of beech AND later solid beech, could be softened by steam, ready for forming into unusual shapes. He was a pioneer in this area of manufacturing.
Unlike the craft based handmade approach of the Arts and Craft Movement, Thonet saw that there was a opportunity to use his innovative industrial production technology, to mass manufacture new ,innovative designs. His chair designs contrasted the highly hand crafted chairs of the day. His No 14 Chair, was probably the first chair to be mass produced, on a production line. Due to Thonet’s industrial manufacturing processes, the production line was mainly staffed by semi to unskilled workers. There was no longer a need to have skilled craftsmen at every stage of production. He was the first furniture manufacturer to distribute his products in a disassembled form (early form of flat pack), a method now taken for granted by companies such as IKEA.
|Why is the Thonet No14 Chair regarded as an iconic product?|
|The No 14 Chair set a bench mark for others to follow. It was a ground breaking design, in terms of its style and the manufacturing techniques used during it’s production. Many designers believe that the design improved on the past and even led the way for Modernism. The chair set new standards in terms of the quality and style of bentwood furniture. The design has stood the test of time, remaining popular despite the passing of years. It is a design that stays in the memory, a design that is often recognised immediately by consumers. The No 14 Chair has inspired other designers and is often emulated/copied. The chair was probably the first to be distributed to retailers flat packed, ready for assembly at a later date. Above all, the chair was innovative and is still aesthetically pleasing today.|
|Write a specification for a coffee table, designed in the style of the No14 chair.|
The coffee table will be designed in the style of Thonet’s No14 Chair. It will be based on a ‘bentwood’ style.
It will be manufactured from natural solid wood, such as beech, which is ideal for steam bending.
The coffee table will be stable, as well as being aesthetically pleasing.
The top / table surface, will be easy to ‘wipe’ clean.
The table will be composed of the minimum amount of materials.
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