A Creative Twist On A Bentwood Classic That Honors The Original

Robert Stadler introduces Chair 107, an update on the Thonet’s iconic No. 14.

It can be a daunting task to re-imagine a design classic, so it was with a great deal of respect that Vienna-born, Paris-based Robert Stadler approached Chair 107, his evolution of No. 14 (now known as 214), a seat that bears one of Thonet’s most famous silhouettes. "The challenge was to design something different enough that people wouldn’t say, ‘Okay, nice, but I prefer the original,’" Stadler tells Co.Design. "I think the key to 107's success is the fact that it uses the same ingredients as its predecessor: wood, modern manufacturing technology, and the search for visual lightness."

The project actually started as a special commission for Corso, the third in a chain of French eateries art directed by Stadler and his studio. What began as a customization, however, became an entirely new entry in the venerable brand’s catalog. "I had this idea of simplifying a curve with straight lines," he says. Not only that, but he wanted to revisit the "original intention" behind the icon: a cost-efficient café staple. "The large, curved back makes 214 rather expensive today, and this is a certain contradiction," he says. A CNC milling machine enabled 107‘s flatter elements to be produced using an almost entirely automated manufacturing process, while the plywood back adds a bit of additional comfort for those long afternoons spent lolling around in a Parisian bistro; these new techniques cut expenses by almost half (hence the name).

Like Muji’s re-imagining of No. 14 a few years ago, Stadler’s model makes a fitting addition to the new creative canon. "In fact, when you twinkle your eyes, you will see the same curve as the one introduced in 1859," he says.

(H/T designboom)

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  • Aaron

    I was at the presentation at Vienna Design Week. While the chair looks amazing at first glance, if you look more closely you can see glue coming out of the seams at the back. That ruins the whole impression. The Thonet-speaker at the presentation (who happened to be a member of the Thonet family) seemed incredibly bored by the company's products, and so do I, after his presentation. Robert Stadler was great though!