Bent furniture factories

We dream of a beauty before we start to create a product. Bending the wood is the key to its strength. Beauty & strength make it timeless. Our product is to be inherited from generation to generation, the same way as our craftmanship. We do it in a fair and friendly way in favour of people and nature.

We manually bend our furniture in the same workshops where this technology has been in use since 1861. However, we moved the features of this unique technique further more and mix them with contemporary designers’ thoughts. Our tables and chairs become a connection of quality, innovative shapes and a legacy to the place that has learned to understand the wood for generations.

Interview: Alexander Gufler 

The rules of success for designers are similar to those in the music industry
With Alexander Gufler about bent furniture TON

A significant product of the TON brand is the Merano chair, its author is the current creative director of the brand, Alexander Gufler. Beside Merano, he also designed the collection of upholstered chairs Albu or Lasu tables. Merano is also the name of the city he was born, although nowadays he is working from his studio in Vienna. How does Alexander Gufler perceive his work as a designer and creative manager of TON?

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His career started as a goldsmith in the family shop. After his master studies in goldsmithing in Pforzheim he continues studying industrial design in Vienna, where he stayed and created his own studio. In 2015 he won the IF Design Award, his Merano chairs were awarded also in the Red Dot and Good Design competition. His success lies in precision, he designs every object with the highest attention to every detail. His work combines deep knowledge of the materials and processes as well as simplicity and full functionality.

What was your first experience with TON? How long have you been working for this brand?

I met TON for the first time when i exhibited my Merano armchair at the IMM furniture fair in cologne 2010. I didn’t know anything about TON at that time and It was there where we decided to start our collaboration. Overall it’s 11 years that we are working together.

How is this brand perceived abroad?

I was quite surprised about the size and history after my first visit in Bystrice. Abroad TON made a small progress over the last 10 years due to its news designs, but still it does not has the standing as in Czech republic. Here certainly is a room for improvement.

What does the role of a creative director in TON include?

It consists in all creative decisions regarding the brand including the products, fair appearance, showrooms, website, catalogs, etc… All this topics have to be curated by someone to achieve a consistent language that represents the brand. Of course all those decisions are always made in accordance with the acting persons at TON.

Where do you see the brand in the future, for example in 5 years?

I hope in 5 years we manage to achieve the targets that we set to ourselves. We would like to establish a stronger design culture in the brand and position TON much stronger on the international design market as a longstanding furniture brand with high quality furniture pieces.

You said that chairs are a high-level discipline. A chair is a functional statue. Do you have a creative muse?

Not really, but i would say that I definitely can’t work without music that brings me in the right mood. Especially when I build prototypes I really enjoy listen to loud music. An other creative and inspiring source for me is cooking. Here i can come down after an exhausting working day and think about projects with calm and a glass of wine in my hand. Sport has also a good and refreshing influence on my creative process.

How would you describe your idea making process?

It is a constant back and forward between sketching, prototyping and 3D modeling. It depends on the project and the workflow but overall I always try to build my designs for real to see them as a physical object in front of me. Due to this I get a better understanding for proportions, materials and production processes.

What are the dark sides of being a designer?

Hard to say because probably it depends from persons to person, but I think the unknown is quite hard for some designer. There is no guaranty and no predefined path for success. Actually I like to compare it to the music business, there the rules for success are similar.

Is there anything you learn from the goldsmith field that you are drawing from now?

It’s definitely the accuracy, patience, passion and sense for materials where I still benefit from my education as a goldsmith.

Italy is known for its unique design. According to you what are the key factors for design brands to succeed?

This depends on the brand and how good and persistent they are. If they do a good job then for sure they can compete in my opinion. It’s all about passion, knowledge and the intellectual ability to question yourself permanently, to avoid standstill.

And finally, what is your so far your favorite product?

I don’t have that one favorite piece, but for example I am a huge admirer of some of Konstantin Grcic’s works.


Photos: Vanda Sklářová

Michaela Thoneta 148
76861 Bystřice pod Hostýnem

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