Furniture and Innovation

The choice may be an easy one, but I do believe that the Thonet ‘s  “Bistrot chair N.14”, 1859, remain an obvious and one of the best example of the 19 century to illustrate the innovation behind the design and manufacturing process. This chair was a clear statement from Michael Thonet to demonstrate the benefits of an industrial and serial process, resulting from the latest developemnts in the building industry. Michael Thonet demonstarted that industrial processes  can now be applied to all sort of objects from everyday life such as a chair.


Bistrot Chair N.14. Michael Thonet, 1859

Pictures from  ” Histoire du Design de 1940 a nos jours”,P.19. Raymond . Guidot.  1994 – 2005


In my opinion this is what Furniture Design should be: constant research and experimentations to re-think the way we conceive,  use and interact with objects.

In addition, I would say that  designing a furniture is also about challenging the use of materials to push to the extrem their technical capacities. In this instance I am convinced that, Alvar Alto’s Deckchair N.39, 1936-1939 illustrate perfectly this aspect of pushing the technical boundaries of the use of specific material such as the Birch wood. Indeed in using the glum technic, Alvar Alto succeded in designing a flexible, resistant and above all confortable chair while, rethinking the manufacturing process of wood to achieve an innovative result wildly acclaimed in 1937 during the ” Exposition des arts et techniques dans la vie moderne – Paris” ( Arts and Technic Exposition in the modern life -Paris).

“Chaise-Longue” (Deckchair). Alvar Alto, 1936-1939

Pictures from  ” Histoire du Design de 1940 a nos jours”,P.35. Raymond . Guidot.  1994 – 2005


Finally, this idea of “challenge” can also be found in modern period such as in Danny Lane’ Chair 1988. Indeed, when using Glass material to design his version  of a chair, Danny Lane create a “two identity” piece of furniture: a chair that becomes  a sculpture.

“Chair”, Danny Lane, 1988.

Personal picture, Victoria and Albert Museum, London


In opting for this approach, the artist challenge our primitive use of the chair and, turn this everyday life object, so considering by many as a basic furniture, into a sculpture to  question its real function.