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Thonet and Modernism in Architecture


and Modernism in Architecture

Bauhaus Dessau, Architect Walter Gropius, 1926

One of the most important periods in the history of modernism in architecture and design is without a doubt the Bauhaus. Walter Gropius called for a uniting of art and technology at this innovative training institution established in 1919. After having moved to Dessau in 1926, experiments with the innovative tubular steel material were made at this school by, among others, Bauhaus teachers such as Marcel Breuer and Mart Stam.

These experiments were connected with the emerging movement of the New Building, which aimed to offer modern people new architecture and new institutions. Thonet’s commitment since the end of the 1920s provided the tubular steel concept with its big impact and made it increasingly popular. 

Bauhaus Dessau, Restaurant and Guesthouse
„Weniger ist mehr.
Less is more.”
Ludwig Mies van der Rohe
Exhibition Deutscher Werkbund, Paris 1930

Milestones in design history

Today, many of the tubular steel furniture designs, which Thonet has been producing ever since, are considered milestones in design history.

The S 33, presented in 1927 in the Weissenhof Estate and still in Thonet’s program today, was considered the first cantilever chair in furniture history; it goes back to a design by Mart Stam. The S 32/S 64 by Marcel Breuer with its characteristic wicker work is probably the most famous and most-produced tubular steel classic. Also in the program: the cantilever S 533 by Mies van der Rohe.

S 533 R

Mies van der Rohe

Schminke House, 1933

A Monument of Modernism

The Schminke House by architect Hans Scharoun in Löbau in the Upper Lausitz region was designed in 1930 and is considered one of the outstanding examples of the New Building worldwide. The Schminkes, owners of a factory, were the clients. Enthusiastic about the innovative architecture of their time, the couple dealt with contemporary building exhibitions. They also visited the Weissenhof Estate before deciding to hire Hans Scharoun as an architect.

The family moved into the house in 1933; Thonet furniture was used in it, for example the S 533 designed in 1927 by Mies van der Rohe. The materials Mies consciously chose to use combine functional industrial design with organic forms and makes the chair a timeless classic.