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Beech eating machine: A new materialist critique of the Thonet no. 14 chair



This paper adopts a new materialist framework, developed from Deleuzian-Guattarian con-cepts of affect, to assess the socio-environmental relations of the Thonet No. 14 chair in for-estry, industry, culture and labour. The hybridity of industry, forestry and human force with the chair’s materiality, operating by processes of sensation and perception, is examined in the context of manufacturing and consumption culture. The chair’s lightness, stiffness and strength, its experimental design and innovative use of steam power, is shown to have trig-gered production and consumption events with social and environmental consequences. Ma-terial expressions are framed as micropolitical affects that propagated into macropolitical fields via the sensory experience of the chair’s material conditions and forces, binding con-sumers and producers into patterns of behaviour. These are discussed in reference to cafe culture, lion taming, and the expansion of the Thonet empire – including their labour practic-es, use of proprietary currency and effect on European forestry. The value of this kind of new materialist inquiry to contemporary aspects of production and consumption is briefly specu-lated.


Palavras-chave: Furniture design, affect, new materialism, Thonet, production, consumption,

Palavras-chave: ,

DOI: 10.5151/despro-icdhs2016-04_010

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Como citar:

KEULEMANS, Guy; "Beech eating machine: A new materialist critique of the Thonet no. 14 chair", p. 354-360 . In: Wong, Wendy Siuyi; Kikuchi, Yuko & Lin, Tingyi (Eds.). Making Trans/National Contemporary Design History [=ICDHS 2016 – 10th Conference of the International Committee for Design History & Design Studies]. São Paulo: Blucher, 2016.
ISSN 2318-6968, DOI 10.5151/despro-icdhs2016-04_010

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