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Thonet, 214 Two-Tone, Studio Besau-Marguerre

The subtle distinction: a smart colour concept for a design icon

Design no. 14 (today 214): Michael Thonet (1859),
re-interpreted by Studio Besau Marguerre (2019)


At the occasion of the company’s 200th anniversary, Eva Marguerre and Marcel Besau created a special version of the famous Thonet Coffee House Chair 214. This icon will be available exclusively in 2019 in four contemporary two-tone colour versions: in black, white, velvet red and sage. Their special feature: the connecting elements of the chair are stained several shades lighter than the seat ring and legs. The play of colours attracts the eye to the ingenious, minimalistic construction and, at the same time, transports its classic silhouette into a contemporary context. The natural look of the stains creates a translucent effect and the contemporary interpretation of classic colours creates a modern look. 


The 214 in interiors: a graphic moment in spaces

Eva Marguerre and Marcel Besau were especially fascinated with the curved shapes of the 214: “For us, the central theme of the Thonet brand are the radii and round shapes of bent wood and tubular steel. We emphasize the shape of the 214, the curve of its backrest, with our colour concept – which creates a graphic effect.” And they add: “We always think in an interdisciplinary way, and we always imagine products in a context. In the case of the 214, we naturally conceived a use in cafés – and this is precisely where we believe this chair still belongs today! The graphic moment plays a role for this purpose: The placement of many chairs in a space creates repetition. This makes the beauty of the backrests graded in the colour nuances visible – and thereby the beauty of the chair itself.” 

Thonet, 214, TwoTone, Studio Besau-Marguerre

The Thonet principle

Six parts, ten screws and two nuts: The design of the Thonet Coffee House Chair No. 14 (today 214) can be summed up with this formula. Michael Thonet did not need more in Vienna in 1859 to create one of the most successful industrial products ever and a classic of design history. With this icon of modern furniture design, he established an example for what the much-quoted “reduction to the essential” really means, and at the same time established the foundation for serial mass production. Disassembled into its individual parts, 36 chairs could be packed into a shipping crate – and shipped and sold throughout the world. 

Colour nuances raise awareness for the essential

With their colour concept, Eva Marguerre and Marcel Besau raise awareness of chair 214’s essential and revolutionary construction, and thereby of the Thonet brand’s DNA. Based loosely on Charles and Ray Eames’ famous quotation “The details are not the details, they make the product”, their play of colours makes the chair’s construction visible. With the assistance of the two-tone concept, the individual parts of the chair become subtly distinct through soft colour nuances. Eva Marguerre and Marcel Besau: “The iconic nature of the chair is emphasized.” 


The colour concept of the stains represents a spectrum of rather neutral, discrete shades in combination with nuances of strong character. The versions two-tone white and two-tone black look simple and elegant and fit in with any interior. The two-tone velvet red version brings back memories of 19th century coffee houses. In the anniversary edition, the classic red is juxtaposed with the fresh nuance of the bright sage green, lending a bright atmosphere to the interior. 



The versions in detail  

The anniversary edition of the 214 is made of beech wood. The seat is available with stretched wicker cane. The available stain colours of the anniversary edition are two-tone black, two-tone white, two-tone sage, and two-tone velvet red. 


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Studio Besau-Marguerre

Eva Marguerre (born 1983) and Marcel Besau (born 1980) both studied product design as well as exhibition and graphic design. In 2011, they founded their design studio Besau-Marguerre in Hamburg. They describe their studio in the district of Eimsbüttel as a melting pot of different design disciplines where the most diverse projects from the fields of product design, interior design, styling and visual communication are realised. Their design activities focus on questions such as “How do we experience objects? How do we interact with them? In what way do we use products and how will we remember them later?” In addition to form and function, colour and materials play an important role in their projects, but the design duo always keeps an eye on the context. Their common interdisciplinary design approach generates extraordinary ideas and results in objects that often unite an experimental use of unusual materials with a striking colour design. The predominant goal of the two designers is to evoke emotions and sensual experiences, with the creation of prototypes and use of digital design tools being self-evident elements of the design process.