1918 — 1939

Embracing modernity
The First World War brought an economic crisis of immense proportions and resulted in the mergers of several companies involved in the manufacturing of modern bentwood furniture. The culmination of these mergers was the establishment in 1924 of Thonet-Mundus, which merged Gebrüder Thonet with the joint stock company Kohn-Mundus, itself the successor of Thonet’s competitor Jacob & Josef Kohn. The merged company existed until 1946 and was in its day one of the largest furniture manufacturers in the world. The Bystřice factory became the development centre of Thonet-Mundus, which continued to export products to all corners of the globe.
During this time, Thonet-Mundus adjusted its product line to new customer demand and to the ideas of a modern lifestyle, which was promoted from the 1920s onward by modernist designers and architects. Thonet chairs were hailed as examples of simplicity and economy, qualities that were promoted by functionalists. Many pre-eminent designers worked on bentwood furniture designs for Thonet-Mundus at this time, including Josef Hoffmann, Adolf Gustav Schneck and Josef Frank. Thonet furniture was also favoured by famous architects, including Le Corbusier. The interwar period also saw growth in tubular steel furniture, which was later manufactured in some Thonet-Mundus factories. Another player in this new sector was the Bystřice-based company Slezákovy závody, which began to produce tubular steel furniture as early as 1908.
Thonet’s file system contains several thousand product cards with detailed information about individual products.
The first president of Czechoslovakia Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk seated at a Gebrüder Thonet table.


In 1917 the company Jacob & Josef Kohn merged with Mundus. In 1921 Gebrüder Thonet transformed into the joint stock company Thonet AG and three years later it merged with Kohn-Mundus. The merger gave birth to Thonet-Mundus, the largest furniture company in the world at the time. Thonet-Mundus was led by Mundus’ founder Leopold Pilzer.
The catalogue title page shows a map of Czechoslovakia with locations of all Thonet-Mundus factories.
The fire brigade has always been an important element of fire safety at the bentwood furniture factory.

The fire brigade

The fire brigade has played a key role in the Bystřice factory since 1873, when the factory was devastated by a major fire. Since then, the fire brigade has trained for similar situations. Another fire followed in 1889. A fire-hydrant system was installed in 1907, complete with 26 hydrants and a water tower 18 metres high. This image from 1923 shows the fire brigade celebrating fifty years of its existence.


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