Earlier this year, we had a look at ten "could-potentially-see-the-light-of-day" chair designs from Austrian designer Thomas Feichtner. It's been an exciting seven months at Feichtner's studio: while the Salone only saw a 1:5 scale model of the "M3" chair, the designer saw fit to unveil the final product in his hometown during Vienna Design Week. (In the meantime, he'd also found time to design a rather timely chandelier for Lobmeyr.)Liberated from the demands normally made on a mass-produced item, this design experiments with functionality, structural engineering and material. Both its back and its armrests are mere tangents of the construction, the functions of which are only discovered via actual use. With a seating surface floating within the construction and legs extending far to the sides, the M3 is most assuredly not a chair that saves space—it is much rather one which creates a space [of exactly one cubic meter; hence the name of the piece].
Although the thickness of the bars has proportionally increased from the rapid-prototyped model to the end result, the element of space remains its defining characteristic. Indeed, I was initially struck by the form's resemblance to the tesseract, the "fourth-dimensional analog of the cube"—a concept that I recalled from Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time. (Seriously, try not to be mesmerized by this GIF.)
Nevertheless, Feichtner design also alludes to craftsmanship through his choice of material:The chair is made of one and only one material: oak. This is a conscious choice of materials, hearkening back to the woodworking tradition upheld by furniture workshops of yore. The wood renders the chair's light construction a static experiment which could only succeed in a handmade, unique item. Like many works by Feichtner, the M3 is to be understood as an artistic and experimental examination of design removed from industry and mass-production, as art and design placed in interdisciplinary dialog with one another. The M3 experiment is particularly well-suited to showing that design can free itself from the doctrine of the purely objective and is not automatically obligated to serve industrial utility. It represents a catalyst for the discussion of various positions.
Thus, in keeping with his conceptually-inclined prior body of work, the "M3" is intended to raise deeper questions about the nature of craftsmanship, furniture, tradition and space itself, partly elicited through its pairing with a previous work—thoroughly documented here—in the exhibition at Neue Wiener Werkstätte.This unique object [was] juxtaposed with the mass-produced FX10 Lounge Chair, an earlier work by Feichtner that has since become a classic of Austrian design. While these two pieces share a geometric theme, the M3 Chair exhibits an open, wooden cantilever construction that contrasts with the closed body of the Lounge Chair. The installation highlights not only the tension between closed and open, heavy and light, surface and line, and mass-production and the single copy, but also the symbiosis between traditional workmanship and contemporary design.