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White Gray Black

J. & J. Kohn (Austrian, established 1867)

About this artist

Source: Oxford University Press

Austrian furniture manufacturing company. In 1849 Jacob Kohn (1791–1868) and his son Josef Kohn (1814–84) founded a factory for the production of wooden building components in the Vsetín area of Moravia. They began a successful campaign to dispute Michael Thonet’s patent of 1856 for the production of bentwood furniture, and, in 1867, before Thonet voluntarily waived patent rights in 1869, they set up a company in Vsetín for the manufacture of bentwood, going into production in 1868. A second factory was established at Jičín in 1869, others at Kraców in Poland and at Teschen (now Česky Těšín) in 1871, yet another in Novo-Radomsk, Russia (now Radomsko, Poland) in 1884, and their own frame-making factory in Holleschau in 1890. By c. 1900 the company employed 6300 workers who were producing 5500 pieces of furniture per day. By 1893 there were 51 bentwood furniture firms in existence worldwide. Kohn, therefore, countered increasing competition by such technical innovations as the development of new furniture details and assembly processes, and by a conscious extension of his range of products: bentwood began to be used to furnish domestic interiors as well as cafés, and after the establishment of the frame-making factory Kohn was even able to offer ‘fully fitted rooms’. At the Exposition Universelle of 1900 in Paris the firm first presented models designed by Gustav Siegel (1880–1970), and from then on bentwood furniture ceased to be an anonymous mass-market industrial product and became part of the Arts and Crafts Movement. Such architects as Otto Wagner, Adolf Loos, Josef Hoffmann and Kolo Moser all produced designs for the company, which achieved further success in the Werkbundausstellung of 1914 in Cologne. In the same year J. & J. Kohn merged with Mundus AG, which in turn incorporated Gebrüder Thonet in 1922.

Eva B. Ottillinger
From Grove Art Online

© 2009 Oxford University Press

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