160 years of bending wood in Bystřice pod Hostýnem
The bentwood furniture factory in Bystřice pod Hostýnem has now been operating for 160 years
The German inventor, designer and businessman Michael Thonet founded Bystřice pod Hostýnem’s bentwood furniture factory in 1861. He chose this location because of the beech forests surrounding it, as well as its advantageous logistical position and the hardworking local people. In the time the factory has been operative, it has gone through various periods of prosperity and decline, but it has manufactured its iconic bentwood furniture continuously on its premises right up to the present day.
“Michael Thonet was a visionary. He invented the steel flange, which meant the beechwood fibres could be moulded into the chosen form. With this discovery, and by organising work on an industrial scale, he triggered a revolution in furniture-making. He also introduced lightness, functionality and design to furniture making, attributes that were not previously found together in furniture,” states Milan Dostalík, TON’s managing director. “In addition to revolutionary products, he also created entirely distinct business and marketing strategies. For example, as early as 1859 he was presenting his products in the first catalogue. We continue to learn from history, we are proud that the factory is still operative today and that we are the next generation taking it forward,” adds Milan Dostalík.
The present and the future
“We are the sixth generation to write the story of bentwood furniture from Bystřice pod Hostýnem. This means we are compelled to think of future generations too. Regarding this place, we also need to think broadly about how we can specifically contribute to environmental sustainability,” Milan Dostalík explains. TON is therefore not only focusing on becoming carbon-neutral, but will also start offering a renovation service for whole products, as well as repairing cane weaves. “We want to focus on extending the product life-cycle and remember that sometimes it is enough to return to what previous generations were using,” Dostalík adds.
The book +-160 Years
Stories associated with the factory’s 160th anniversary are chronicled in a new book by Adam Štěch – +-160 Years. You can take a look at part of it on the website plusminus160.com This site also has a 360° video, on which you can watch furniture being manufactured using both manual technology and machines to bend the wood. The book and the website will both be launched on 24 June 2021.
The book is not a detailed historical probe, but a curated set of knowledge, facts and curiosities that visually acquaint the reader with the phenomenon of bentwood furniture from Bystřice pod Hostýnem. Its past, present and future.