Josef Frank designed several bentwood chairs during the late 1920s, some of which were produced for Thonet-Mundus AG in Vienna. Josef Frank was inspired by how Thonet-Mundus chairs were functional and easy to move, and he furnished his Tea Salon in Vienna 1930 with painted bentwood furniture that he designed himself. Chair P4’s and P5’s original sketches are preserved in Svenskt Tenn’s archives, and are manufactured today with the same technique as then.
Today, they are manufactured at Gemla Fabrikers AB, Sweden's oldest furniture factory, located at the small town of Diö in Småland. In the 19th century, craftsmen from Bohemia came to Diö, bringing with them the knowledge and experience from Thonet's factories. They became the first to introduce the bentwood technique in Sweden and are the only manufacturer mastering the art of bending solid wood with steam.
Josef Frank thought that a dining room chair should be light enough to lift with just a finger, and that it should be easy to move around in an interior. Chairs P4 and P5 have an open backrest with four rods, which gives the chair a light and airy expression that doesn’t affect the room by putting up extra dividing barriers.
Josef Frank wrote about chair design in the Obs! Magazine in 1954: “Anyone who sees a chair simply as a piece of furniture to sit on, will always sit uncomfortably. […] I personally never sit on a chair that is designed for just one position. I want the possibility of sitting in different ways for different occasions and at different times of the day.”
Chairs P4 and P5 are crafted by hand in Sweden. Estrid Ericson held the highest esteem for Swedish craftsmanship and never compromised on the quality. “Made in Sweden” is still highly regarded at Svenskt Tenn and the company has yet today a goal to support and develop high quality Swedish handicraft.
Svenskt Tenn has worked with wood since the 1930s and the material is one of the most important in our production today. Wood is renewable, reusable and bio- degradable, but for wood to be a really good material from an environmental point of view, it should come from responsibly managed forests.