For the 100th anniversary of Bauhaus, Thonet and Hamburg-based design studio, Besau Marguerre have teamed up to bring an element of contemporary luxury to the S 533 F chair designed by Mies van der Rohe in 1927. The limited-edition of the renowned steel framed cantilever chair has been given a new look with a grey and rose colour scheme, bringing a sensual sheen to the brusque Bauhaus chair.

Studio Besau Marguerre, founded by Marcel Besau and Eva Marguerre in 2011, has created two new versions of the S 533 F with added armrests lending a softer appearence and feel. Looking to find a contrast between ‘objectivity and softness’, one chair has a pearl gloss chrome frame and anthracite-coloured nubuck-effect bend leather, with the other in matt champagne chrome with nubuck leather in soft rose.

‘I think they’re very good at putting together materials and colours, creating something out of very little, and giving enhancement that doesn’t betray the design, but keeps validity,’ says Norbert Ruf, creative director at Thonet. ‘It’s a very fresh look on the Bauhaus classic. It pushes a little bit of luxury, but doesn’t go over the edge,’ he says.

Bauhaus 100 Thonet chair edition

Detail of the limited-edition chair. Image courtesy of Thonet

The designers referenced the original design through the warm, yet neutral colours that reference the lighter nickel-plated patina of the first cantilever chairs from the 1920s and 1930s. ‘While most designs from the 1920s were rather simple and function, this chair clearly reveals the architect’s signature: here, Mies combines functionality and comfort with timeless aesthetics – and that’s precisely what we wanted to bring into the present,’ says Marcel Besau.

Softness and flexibility were integral to Mies van der Rohe’s design that was specifically shaped to adapt and cushion the movement of the user with its large arch of hardened tubular spring steel. The designers have enhanced the user experience of this Bauhaus classic, by applying their knowledge and signanature sensual approach to design that can be felt across their other projects such as the furniture series for the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg.

Bauhaus Thonet chair

The S43 chair as seen in the Bauhaus studio building in Dessau. Image courtesy of Thonet

Studio Besau Marguerre were recommended to Thonet through German designer Stefan Diez, whom Eva Marguerre studied under. (‘I usually ask people who I believe have a good feeling for other people,’ says Ruf of his selection process for collaborators). Ruf remembers being impressed by ‘a small colourful stool that was dipped into resin’ designed by Marguerre early on in her career. 

With backgrounds in product design as well as exhibition and graphic design, Besau and Marguerre are based in the district of Eimsbüttel in Hamburg, a place where – like the Bauhaus – there is a community of designers working together and collaborating.

Thonet catalogue tubular steel 1930-31

A Thonet catalogue from 1930-31 featuring the tubular steel designs. Image courtesy of Thonet

Thonet’s history is based upon collaboration and craftsmanship too – the manufacturer opened its workshop in Boppard on the River Rhine in 1819, first mastering the art of the chair no.14, the Vienna Coffee House chair, and pioneering the technique of bending solid beech wood. The next challenge would be the tubular steel furniture, designed by the Bauhaus architects Mart Stam, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Marcel Breuer in the 1930s. By this time, always in chase of innovation, Thonet had grown from workshop into its vast headquarters and production site in  Frankenburg, Germany. Today, working on collaborations with designers to bring limited-editions to the market is an expression of this continued experimentation and innovation, mixing contemporary expression with years of expertise and skill.

‘It’s been a very positive and constructive collaboration,’ says Ruf of the Studio Besau Marguerre edition. ‘The first collaborations with designers and interior architects are always the most difficult because there’s a lot of trial and error, trying to find a similar language, and to communicate what Thonet is and needs, what’s credible for our market, and also to understand how to find a compromise – after all that, it’s then a lot easier to build on the know-how for another collaboration.’ §