1939 — 1989

The end and the new beginning
Dark clouds began to gather over Thonet-Mundus factories at the beginning of the Second World War. In September 1939, the Nazi government’s Supreme District Counsellor in Kroměříž installed Franz Schieferdecker as the official Nazi overseer at the Bystřice factory. Production in Thonet-Mundus factories in Czechoslovakia had already been curtailed before the war; during the war the company’s remaining facilities also shifted production toward the war effort. For example, the Koryčany factory produced wooden wings for the training Arado aeroplane, other factories, including Bystřice pod Hostýnem, made boxes for ammunition and rifle butts, and in German Frankenberg the Thonet-Mundus factory made reclining beds for military hospitals. The second war of the century brought even greater difficulties to the company than the first. Air raids caused severe damage to some of the factories and the Frankenberg complex was completely destroyed at the end of the war.
In 1945, after the end of the war, Thonet family property was confiscated and nationalised under a series of laws known as Beneš decrees. This included factories in Bystřice pod Hostýnem, Halenkov and Koryčany, large country manors in Vsetín and Velké Uherce, and department stores in Prague and Brno. Thonet was converted into a national enterprise and in 1953 renamed to Továrny ohýbaného nábytku [Bentwood furniture factories], better known under the acronym TON. Various Thonet facilities were reorganised and subdivided in line with new socialist ideas about organising production. Despite the reorganisation, the Bystřice factory continued to produce classic Thonet furniture, with new designs added under the leadership of architects Antonín Šuman, Radomír Hofman, Josef Macek and others. Some of their designs were prized both at home as well as abroad.
Workers experimenting with bending a long piece of wood into a spiral.
A modern manufacturing facility was built between 1965 and 1970; the facility is still in use today.
Chair design by architect Plhoň for a design competition in 1957.

TON in the era of socialism

In 1948 the Communist Party came to power in the former Czechoslovakia. During the forty years of the party’s rule, the country experienced political repression and a decline in cultural and moral values, which negatively impacted on the quality of workmanship and the materials used in production. Nationalised factories were joined to form the TON state enterprise, with the Bystřice factory remaining as the centre of production. These archival photographs provide snapshots of what production and daily factory life looked like at a time when people were ostensibly working for collective peace and prosperity of the working class.
A moment at the TON factory during the 1970s.

Collaboration with architects

TON held a special position within the furniture manufacturing sector and even had its own design studio, which in the 1950s began to develop modern chair designs. Initially these reflected the Brussels style, the local name for a style that became popular in Czechoslovakia after the country’s participation at the 1958 Brussels world fair. In the 1970s, simpler and more monumental forms became popular, including designs by Radomír Hofman and Antonín Šuman.
Designed by Antonín Šuman, the chair won several prizes and was named one of the best Czechoslovak products of 1979.


We met the Černoch family in their home in Všechovice and spoke about their experiences of working in different TON factories and the way in which this has shaped the story of their family. The Černoch family is inextricably linked to the small village of Všechovice, which is also the birthplace of the functionalist architect Bohuslav Fuchs.
Read the interview