Development mode

Wooden chair 860: The Making of Story

Thonet Making of Story 860

Discover the Making-of stories of our new lounge designs!

Our prestigious archives in Frankenberg have served as inspiration for several new designs. Some of you might wonder: How does Thonet come up with those new designs? Who are the designers and what inspires them? And: Which steps are involved in the development of a completely new product?

With a range of brand new making of stories we would like to provide you with an insight into the work of our in-house designers: The Thonet Design Team!

This week we are introducing Lydia Brodde and the making of her newly introduced wooden armchair 860 which was inspired by Thonet lounge furniture of the 1960s.

Thonet 860 Design Lydia Brodde
Thonet Making of Story 860

The source of inspiration

With the goal to design an comfortable upholstered armchair that would fill a gap in our lounge programme range, Lydia Brodde set out on her first tour through our historical Thonet archives.

The young designer was immediately attracted to the wooden frames typical for the 1950s-1970s. She was especially fascinated with the special dynamics of the graphic wooden frame of programme range 641 by Rudolf Glatzel (designed in 1960). The different interconnected angles create a striking picture. The interaction between the wooden frame and upholstery establishes a specific kind of suspense.

In the next step, it was necessary to step back from the inspirational model and design a new wooden chair for Thonet.

Due to the formal connection with the source of inspiration, the designer created an homage to Thonet’s wooden frames from the 1950s-1970s with model 860. As a lounge chair, however, it is a modern and contemporary interpretation and (manufactured with newest production technologies) it is more comfortable many times over.

The drafting process

In the beginning was the idea of a very comfortable wooden armchair with striking graphic contours. Lydia Brodde found her inspiration in our museum as  well as in our archives where she looked at our#furniture from the past 196 years. With their graphic forms, the 1960s lounge chairs served as inspiration for the 860 wooden armchair.

The chair’s lateral contours were developed by sketching out and playing with various proportional solutions, which were then tested with models printed at a scale of 1:5.

In the next stage of designing, the first construction-related advice from our model makers was integrated into the design – for example, invisible high-quality wooden connections.

Thonet Making of Story 860
Thonet Making of Story 860

The model making process


The next step was the construction of the chair in our model making workshop at a 1:1 scale. It was a truly exciting moment to see the armchair 860 for the first time at full scale and to sit in it. The chair’s comfort was then optimised through various experiments with the seat incline and changes of the upholstery construction. Now, the design of the footstool could be directly derived 1:1 from the armchair.

As a result, technical drawings relevant for the production were drafted and forwarded to our work scheduling and production units.

Thonet Making of Story 860
Thonet Making of Story 860

The pre-series

The wooden armchair was then produced in a small pre-series. These models served as the basis for the final optimization of the production process at our facility in Frankenberg. The production unit is located right next to the product development unit, which fosters a close collaboration. Thus, the designers of the Thonet Design Team have a lively exchange with the experts in production.    

First upholstery trials

First upholstery experiments generated the perfect cutting of the fabric. The upholstery of chair 860 provides the chair with a casual and appealing character.

Here it becomes very clear that the production of all of our products still involves a lot of handicraft. 

Thonet Making of Stories 860
Thonet Making of Stories 860

The finished, newly designed product

Geometric forms and well-defined contours characterise the solid wood frame of this new design, while the soft, slightly tilted cushion invites users to lean back and relax. With programme range 860, Lydia Brodde (of the Thonet Design Team) has created a piece of lounge furniture that combines clean lines with an inviting openness, complemented by the warmth of its wooden frame. The addition of a matching footstool creates a stylishly comfortable sanctuary for private living spaces.

Lydia Brodde, Thonet Design Team

The designer

Lydia Brodde, born 1988 in Höxter, studied integrated product design at Hochschule Coburg from 2007 until 2013. During her studies, she interned at the design office Designbüro Hüttners and in the model making unit of Fritz Becker KG. Since 2014 she has been working in the Thonet product development unit as a designer and project manager.

Photo: Philipp Thonet