rocking chair history : thonet, gustav stickley, antonio volpe, le corbusier, hans wegner, sam maloof ..............................................................................

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rocking chairs history


.............................. origin ....................... precursors .................... modern (1) ..................... modern (2) .................. contemporary ............. newcomers



modern (1)
from 1860 to 1950
( history of rocking chairs, 3 of 6 )
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thonet's first bentwood rocking chair,
upholstered, 1860
courtesy thonet, frankenberg
THONET BROTHERS
1860, austria

michael thonet (1796-1871), german, is considered
the inventor of the process of bentwood production,
characterized by flowing forms and the resulting lightweight
product.
michael thonet opened his furniture cabinetry workshop
in 1819 in a rural austrian town and in 1830 he experimented
with bending steamed wood to create furniture.
he founded the the austrian company 'gebrueder thonet' in 1853.
in 1856 he received a patent for the process of bentwood
manufacturing. thonet and his five sons began to produce innovative
'bentwood' furniture, which became known for being practical,
inexpensive and refined.
the thonet family had 52 assembly-line production factories in Europe
by 1900, and was the world's major manufacturer of bentwood furniture.
his patents for the process expired in 1869, and imitations still
abound.

bentwood rocking chair nr. 10,
thonet ca. 1880
courtesy thonet, frankenberg

bentwood rocking chair, thonet, 1904
courtesy thonet, frankenberg
courtesy thonet, frankenberg

bentwood rocking reclining couch, thonet, 1883
courtesy thonet, frankenberg

child's rocking chair in bent solid wood,
museum thon, bistritz, ca. 1883
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bentwood rocking chair nr. 814
jacob and josef kohn, 1904
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J&J KOHN COMPANY
1869, czechoslovakia

jacob & josef kohn & sons
influenced classic furniture design
from the jugendstil and wiener werstätte.
the kohn family firm was founded in 1850, probably in wsetin,
moravia (vsetin, czechoslovakia) and produced lumber.
jacob kohn went into partnership with his son josef (1814-1884)
in 1867.
their factory in wsetin was built toward the end of 1869.

upon the expiration of thonet brothers's patent in 1869,
j. & .j kohn immediately became thonet's most serious rival.
In the 1870s and 1880s, the firm imitated and varied successful
thonet models, often adopting the thonet model numbers for
identical chairs of their own production.


rocking chair
colonial revival adaption of chippendale, 1880
NEOCLASSICAL AND EXOTIC INFLUENCES
1890, usa

neoclassical furniture was characterized by the use of
classic designs from ancient greece and roman art
and architecture.
some of the more recognizable styles of furniture from
this revival era include:

CHIPPENDALE
popular from mid 1700's to 1800, named after thomas
chippendale, english furniture maker.

RENAISSANCE REVIVAL
popular from 1860's to 1870's, revival of 18th century,
european styles.

EMPIRE
popular from 1830's to 1860's, related to english regency
style, inspired by napoleonic empire.

COLONIAL REVIVAL
popular from 1870's to 1930's with peak after world war I.

rocking chair
unusual carved rope twist design, 1890

rocking chair for children
bamboo imitation combined to western design
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gustav stickley rocker
GUSTAV STICKLEY (1858 - 1942)
ca. 1900, usa

heavy oak furniture with simple, rectangular lines originated in
spanish missions in california, created by the brothers l & j.g. stickley.
the mission style was popular in the early 20th century, it paralleled
the arts and crafts movement in england, which became a revolt
against tasteless overmechanization.
the ideal of this movement was embodied by the craftsmanship,
and the furniture created by arts and crafts devotees is very simple
in design.

large mission style rocking chair
by gustav stickley
---

art nouveau rocking chair by henry van de velde
---
HENRY VAN DE VELDE
1904, belgium

henry van de velde (1863-1957) was a flemish architect,
painter and decorator. together with victor horta
he laid the foundation for art nouveau in belgium.
from 1900 onwards he mainly worked in germany.
henry van de velde is generally considered one of the founders
of what was to become the bauhaus of walter gropius.


'egg' rocking chair
manufacturered by antonio volpe, 1922
---
ANTONIO VOLPE
ca. 1910, italy

italy also began to produce bentwood furniture. the most active areas were the
provinces of udine and naples. in udine a company called 'società anonima
antonio volpe' was founded in 1882 which
produced different pieces, of value for their design and
high quality; among them the most renowned is the 'egg' rocking
chair, attributed to the genius of j. hoffmann and whose real
inventor is still unknown.
the rocker takes it name from the lateral ovals which served as both arms and rockers.


lady's folding rocking chair
---
FOLDING ROCKERS
ca. 1925, europe, america

mobility in various countries in europe and america
increased to the point where there was a special industry
which produced inexpensive, light-weight pieces of furniture which,
whether carried on ships or in cars, or set up in the mountains,
could cope with all climates and terrains without difficulty.
camping sites with tents, caravans and trailers
sprung up everywhere. all of them were equipped in part with mechanical
furniture and with simple folding units, due to lack of space.


R61 lloyd loom rocking chair, 1922
---
LLOYD LOOM
1917, usa

marshall burns lloyd (1858 - 1927)
held many patents for innovative processes in the
wicker field.
among them was the technique of weaving without
a frame - weaving sheets of fabric which were nailed to frames.

the dream of a weaving machine obsessed him,
and therefore he experimented with a new material:
man-made paper fiber.
brown craft paper ribbons were fed into spinning
machines to produce long, thin threads wrapped around a wire core.
these revolutionary machines were rushed into service in 1917.


model B306 placed on a rocking base
design le corbusier, pierre jeanneret and
charlotte perriand, 1928
LE CORBUSIER
1928, france

charles-edouard jeanneret-gris (1887 - 1965) was born in
la chaux de fonds, switzerland.
in 1917 jeanneret-gris settled in paris and adopted the name
'le corbusier' in the early 1920s. from 1922 le corbusier worked
with his cousin pierre jeanneret (1896 – 1967).
during this time, his ideas began to take physical form,
mainly as houses which he created as 'a machine for living in'
and which incorporated his trademark five points of architecture.
the first systemized tubular steel designs by le corbusier studio
appeared in 1928.
B306 (LC4) - this chair, designed in collaboration with charlotte
perriand (1903 - 1999), was exhibited at the 1929
'salon d'automne' in paris.

model nr. B306 (early version as a rocking chair)
design le corbusier, pierre jeanneret and
charlotte perriand, 1928
---

rocking chair in in metal with quilted fabric upholstery
---
ATELIER D.I.M. (joubert et petit)
1930, france


rocking chair with beech frame and cane seat
by hans wegner
---
HANS J. WEGNER
1944, denmark


this chair was inspired by shaker design.
wegner was determined to handcraft his designs
rather than mass produce them, an idea which was much respected in
scandinavian design of the 1950's.


sam maloof's rocker
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SAM MALOOF
ca. 1950, usa

maloof started making furniture immediately after world war II,
when the craft revival in the united states and an interest in pure
design and scandinavian woodworking greatly increased the
numbers of artisans making aesthetically pleasing and useful
objects.
maloof's technical mastery set new standards
for his craft. he designed long, elegant skis that curve inward at
the back like an antelope's horns.
to make them strong enough he used seven laminated strips of
wood for each ski.
the result is both visually striking and as hard as iron.



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this major study, curated by designboom in 2001
will provide all those interested in 'furniture' with information on the chronological evolution of rocking chairs.