Modern Furniture Classics Made with Tradition: Lucas Schnaidt
The following applies to all creative disciplines: truly unique, high-quality works of design are almost always the result of certain favourable constellations. This is just as true for directors and musicians as it is for architects and designers. Because great creative ideas can often only be realised in a team, in cooperation with collaborators.
Two years ago, the young Swiss singer, violinist and composer Chiara Dubey released an album entitled ‘Constellations’. A starry sky adorns the cover – so here, too, it’s about a special interaction that is under a good star. But how, you might now ask, do we get from album covers to a company that makes furniture?
To understand this, one could take a journey, even a trip back in time, to the year 1890 and to Steinheim an der Murr in Württemberg, Germany. In the last century, this town in the district of Ludwigsburg became an important centre of chair manufacturing. Even today, the history of seven chair factories can be seen in the local museum. The Lucas Schnaidt 1890 furniture factory is located in the immediate vicinity.
The company has made the year of its founding, 1890, an integral part of its branding. On the simply designed homepage of its website, a film welcomes visitors right at the top, presenting calm visuals and close-ups of a carefully curated selection of furniture.
The close-ups in particular make the precision craftsmanship of seams, wood grains, weaves and leather quality clear. The careful recordings are accompanied by Chiara Dubey’s musical composition ‘Age’, which can be found on the aforementioned album ‘Constellations’. And here, too, it’s about constellations, connections and references – in the concrete as well as the figurative sense.
Four illustrious names are highlighted, black on white, in generous, simple typography on the homepage: Peter Zumthor, Frei Otto, Karl Friedrich Schinkel and Simon Husslein. Among the four named are two Pritzker Prize winners, Frei Otto and Peter Zumthor. An impressive quartet that can also be interpreted in other ways – for here, too, an arc is drawn from the 19th century (Schinkel) to the present (Husslein).
The institutions and buildings in which objects from the furniture manufacturer can be found are also renowned, for example, Bellevue Palace as the seat of the Federal President, Villa Hammerschmidt and the Chancellor’s Bungalow in Bonn as well as the Kunsthaus Bregenz in Austria and the Bundeshaus Bern in Switzerland.
The German company’s good relations with Switzerland are no coincidence and can be traced back to the managing director and owner, Markus Landolt. He worked for many years in the same position for the oldest Swiss furniture manufacturer Horgenglarus, successfully restructured the company and sold it in 2012. Four years later, he acquired Lucas Schnaidt 1890.
Landolt’s contact with Peter Zumthor also stem from his time at Horgenglarus. The architect certainly needs no further introduction here. His thermal baths in Vals, the design for the Kolumba Museum in Cologne and his extension for the Fondation Beyeler in Riehen near Basel, which is currently being realised, are all masterful examples of well-thought-out, characterful architecture which point to a keen feeling for space, function and material.
The story of Zumthor’s ‘Haldenstein Chair’ is interesting in many ways – and at the same time a typical one for the furniture manufacturer. The design, in fact, was not intended to go into series production. Zumthor designed it for his own home in Haldenstein – hence the name of the chair – and more precisely, for his kitchen.
Landolt continues with the story: “I practically begged Peter Zumthor to let me produce this chair. What perhaps convinced him was our approach to really rethinking this seating sculpture in terms of the workmanship and the materials chosen – to raise its production quality to a level that really does it justice.”
The chair comes in two finishes, a light one and a dark variation called ‘Haldenstein Ebony’. Both are distinctive in that they are upholstered in hand-sewn, vegetable-tanned young bull leather from southern Germany and the upholstery is made of natural rubber and natural coconut. Further comfort is provided by a Nosag under-springing on the seat and back. The turned chair legs are made of solid German pear wood that has been vegetable waxed, oiled and hand polished.
Each piece is numbered and certified with embossing, its seat height is 45.5 cm and it weighs 9 kg. But these are just numbers, the chair’s true quality is felt in the sitting – or even better, the owning.