From Thonet to TON: the post-war history of bentwood furniture

The lecture is focused on the post-war development of bentwood furniture, which has not been professionally researched so far and is often unjustly neglected. It notices the shape changes in the post-war period, activity of company designers Antonín Šuman, Radomír Hofman and Josef Macek working in the shape development department and also the work of other designers (Jiří Petřivý, Miroslav Navrátil, František Vrána and others), who designed for TON occasionally. It points out the success and prestigious awards at international exhibitions.

A fundamental turning point in the history of the Thonet family factories in Moravia came in 1946 when the Thonet company was nationalized; in 1948 it was joined by another 17 nationalized small furniture enterprises. In 1954, the company was renamed TON (bentwood furniture factory) with five major manufacturing plants in Bystřice pod Hostýnem, Holešov, Uherské Hradiště, Frenštát pod Radhoštěm and Mimoň. In the post-war period, TON focused on mass production of seating furniture, which was exported to more than 50 countries. The production range was based on the good old designs, development of new models was provided by the shape development department, which was founded in 1954.


Dagmar Koudelková (* 1965)

Art historian, a graduate of Art History at the Faculty of Arts, Masaryk University in Brno. She worked as a curator of furniture in the Moravian Gallery in Brno and curator of exhibitions at the Design Centre of the Czech Republic. Now she teaches at the Faculty of Arts, Masaryk University in Brno. She focuses on the history of bentwood furniture, metal tubular furniture, housing culture of the inter-war and post-war and on contemporary design. She is the author of publications Jiří Pelcl x design: subjective x objective (2006) and ATIKA 1987–1992. Emotions and Form (2007), she co-authored books on Czech interior and furniture design from 1989 to 1999 (Český interiér a nábytkový design 1989–1999) (2000) and Jindřich Halabala a Spojené uměleckoprůmyslové závody v Brně (Jindřich Halabala and United Artistic and Industrial Factory in Brno) (2003).



Tickets: 100,- CZK; students and senior citizens 50,- CZK.

Reservation is required by telephone at +420 515 511 015/017 or by 

(Capacity is limited to 70 persons).


You can download a poster here.