Holzbank Bench by Thomas Schnur

Thomas Schnur may be the furniture world’s equivalent of a material scientist, testing the potential and pushing the limitations of ordinary substances used in everyday object construction. One recent example is a wooden bench and chair that challenge our perception of the “rusticity” of furniture and other objects made of logs. You can retain the shape and character of the material in its natural shape but give it a modern edge, he argues. The “symbolic power” of the wood’s ability to transform is visibly retained despite the extra layers of sophistication enabled by modern tools.

Side view of the Holzbank Bench

“Primarily in forests and villages, conventional wooden benches are a common phenomenon,” says Thomas of the Holzbank bench. “Crafted from untreated tree trunks, every one of them is handmade and unique. Inspired by the honesty and simplicity of this man-made object, this is a bench that in terms of appearance, shape and materials retains the fundamental qualities of the traditional wooden bench. An optimized, standardized processing technique reinterprets the wooden bench and gives it access to the urban environment.”

Forest Chair by Thomas Schnur

Top view of Forest Chair

This wooden chair and bench series takes the spun-log aesthetic and turn it toward new ends, stacking and rolling these conventional building blocks in unusual ways. “To our industrial informed society these sylvan items often appear rough and solid but also idyllic and indigenous,” he explains. This modern log furniture would look right at home in even the most contemporary environments.

BenchChair by Thomas Schnur

Back view of BenchChair

But wood isn’t the only material Schnur successfully subverts. Other objects in his recent collection include experiments with similarly-ubiquitous typologies of both material and form – bent-metal storage lockers and cast plastic chairs, each taken and returned the viewer with a twist.

“Bench Chair clearly takes its inspiration from the famous Monobloc Chair but puts the associations that any chair evokes into a new context. Its curved shape is contorted into a voluminous body, thereby creating an abstract space, such that observers are confronted with a transformed hybrid.”

Sheet Metal Cabinet by Thomas Schnur

Foldable legs on the Sheet Metal Cabinet

The Sheet Metal Cabinet takes two everyday items commonly made out of this material and puts them together: the ventilated locker cabinet and the trestle table. The results are just a little bit offbeat, but just as functional as you’d ask either item to be on its own. Together, they’re somehow even more useful, especially since the folding legs let you play with different heights.

The results of all these experiments with creative modern furniture designs show us how a little outside-the-box thinking can make even the most common objects interesting again.