Hello, global spirit of collaboration! Not every day do you get an upstart Japanese brand pairing with a revered German company to issue a range of products by a British minimalist and German formalist. But design is a boundary-crossing thing. Witness James Irvine and Konstantin Grcic’s new lines of affordable wood and tubular steel furniture for Muji, a collection created in collaboration with Thonet.Thonet’s creative director, Irvine exploits the curved lines of the company’s original bentwood chair for his pieces in the line, dubbed Muji Manufactured by Thonet. His super-light Muji No. 14, made of beech and with a seat constructed of either wood or mesh, features a simple horizontal panel across the back. When placed next to its corresponding dining table, available in a four- and six-person size, the back panel merges with the tabletop, leaving only the elegant arc of the chair’s frame visible.
The second line, designed by Grcic, pays homage to Thonet’s tubular steel furniture, a style pioneered in the 1920s by Bauhaus designers like Marcel Breur. Grcic’s efforts include a chair with a plywood seat shell, a tubular steel desk with an MDF tabletop (available in three sizes and with optional suspended polypropylene drawers), and a low table (also in three sizes and with optional shallow suspended shelf).
As of this month, Muji Manufactured by Thonet is available in New York and London at Muji’s flagship stores. Prices range from $496 for the beech bentwood chair No. 14 to $676 for the Pipe Desk in dark gray. The collection was introduced at select Muji stores in Japan in December before becoming available in Germany and France in May.