(jiří macek) Muji, the Japanese cult brand, has just launched a redesigned form of the legendary chair “Thonet No. 14” onto the market. It has also presented a new collection of steel pipe furniture inspired by Marcel Breuer.
Michael Thonet’s chair “Thonet No. 14” has survived without any modifications since it was first manufactured in 1858. It was also the first mass-produced chair in the world (in production since 1859) and has become an enduring symbol of the timelessness of perfect design. Nevertheless, Muji gave the chair a new form. The same applies to the steel pipe armchair and table – Bauhaus’s icon from 1928, designed by Marcel Breuer. The new pieces (called “Muji No. 14” or “Muji Steel Pipe Chair”) do not attempt to take possession of the past or to improve upon the original. On the contrary, they seek to pay tribute to the great works of art.
The Muji label (www.muji.jp) is mainly known in Europe for its wide assortment of pure and perfect stationary products. However, in Japan, it is a giant company that offers everything from food and stationary products to clothing and furniture. Its collections are created in cooperation with renowned designers. In its catalogues, one can find jewels such as the CD player “Without Thought” (from 1990) by Naoto Fukosawa, which is likely to be found in any encyclopedia of contemporary design.
The retro collection was realized in cooperation with the Thonet company, which also manufactured the whole collection. To what extent the new collection surpasses or falls behind the original is left to your consideration. Perhaps there is no point in comparing them, however. The furniture by Muji is not a copy. It is rather an exercise on a famous theme with the use of contemporary manufacturing processes and materials. Thanks to Muji, we can begin to realize the actual length of the history of design and what jewels might be hiding in it. Above all, the collection’s presentation was a celebration of history. The 150 years of the “No. 14 Chair” and 80 years of the legendary steel pipe Bauhaus collection definitely deserve it.