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.