The Woodtextile project deals with the technique and application of wood bending. Thonet’s coffeehouse chair No. 14, the first mass-produced bentwood furniture and an icon of industrial design, served as a model. In the classic bentwood technique, the wood is fixed in a mould after treatment with water vapour and left to cure in this mould.


In this project the bending ability of the wood is created by machine cuts. We have used flat materials, which could be processed with the laser cutter. These included wooden fiber boards, veneer, very thin plywood, the so-called aircraft plywood and cardboard. The single-lasered pattern indicates the direction in which the surface can be bent. In addition, the strength of the material changes with different cutting variants.


As part of the project, we visited the Thonet exhibition at the Grassi Museum in Leipzig, which presented a selection of chair production since the founding of Thonets in 1819. In addition, we got an insight into the work of the Thonet GmbH in Frankenberg. There we discussed the project with designer Randolf Schott as well as with Mirco Nordheim, the head of product development of Thonet.


As a result of our series of experiments a coffee table with additional cabinet function was developed. The outer cladding of the table consists of the developed wood textile. The previously flat plates were thus formed into a round shape. Since the wood remains movable by the connection with the textile, the side panel can be opened like a door. Furthermore, the wood textile is used with the shell, which is located on the upper side of the table.


The table is just an example, taken from many possible applications. The wood pattern could be used as a room partition, sound-absorbing wall covering or as opaque curtains. It is also conceivable that doors are created from the laminate which can not be opened by a handle, but rather offer a novel interaction with the user. In smaller dimensions, the patterns serve as flexible barrier doors, similar to the couch table. This opens up possibilities for new forms of furniture. By setting the cuts, variance can also be introduced into the opening process. A continuous surface can be provided with a movable transition, such as a hinge.


In collaboration with Lisa-Marie Schmid