‘depleted thonet 1 85 x 56 cm print on cotton paper’

mexican designer emiliano godoy has designed ‘depleted thonet’, a series of three posters which play on the idea of what would’ve happened if michael thonet’s company had stayed in the same place during their early years, instead of moving around and creating new locations every time they ran out of resources.

the posters are modified versions of pages taken from ‘the 1904 thonet illustrated catalogue’, which godoy scanned in high resolution and digitally modified. he has erased sections or parts of the featured furniture, progressively making more changes with each poster, the first having minimal modifications to the third poster almost existing as a blank page with ony a few half-functional pieces remaining. in these depictions, the missing components are meant to represent deforestation and metaphorically represent the forests that the company depleted during its early years.

for godoy, michael thonet has been a difficult character.

‘there is an individuality and cavalierly to him which is appealing, but he was also the creator of the first large-scale example of industrial manufacturing which I have been trying to work against. (…) when you no longer needed a craftsman to create a piece of furniture, and the design and manufacturing platform were laid out beforehand, then you were able to use cheap, unskilled and replaceable labor to make objects without individual spirit. designers inherited the cumulative higher status that artisans and craftsmen lost, and became an essential part of industrial manufacturing. I do not think previous, craft based manufacturing systems are neither better nor more appropriate today, but I also do not think the industrial revolution model is any better. what thonet pioneered represents all that is good and bad about the industrial revolution, and now that the design world is celebrating 150 years of the no. 14 chair I think it’s worth taking a critical look at this system, and design a better one for the next 150 years. a desirable, sustainable manufacturing platform should be that which keeps the social, economic and cultural wealth created in the last 150 years, but changes our relation to resource use, consumption paradigms and environmental responsibility.‘

emiliano godoy: depleted thonet ‘depleted thonet 1’ (detail)

emiliano godoy: depleted thonet ‘depleted thonet 2’ 85 x 56 cm print on cotton paper’

emiliano godoy: depleted thonet ‘depleted thonet 2’ (detail)

emiliano godoy: depleted thonet ‘depleted thonet 3’ 85 x 56 cm print on cotton paper’

emiliano godoy: depleted thonet ‘depleted thonet 3’ (detail)

emiliano godoy: depleted thonet ‘depleted thonet posters’ left to right: 1, 2, 3

the posters are part of the exhibition ‘cafe tschichold’, shown at cuchifritos art gallery and project space in new york city from march 13th to april 10th, 2010.