The story of Tonus upholstery is one of success, but at the same time, a story revealing the fact that, underlying every success, there is both hard work and a strong desire to succeed. The story starts at the end of the 1960s, when the furniture manufacturer Kevi A/S introduced the now classic Jørgen Rasmussen office chair. The new aspect of the chair was its sculptural form. However, this made the upholstering of it extremely difficult and expensive. The search for a stretchable fabric began in an effort to try to make the upholstering easier and to minimise the costs. Tonus was the result of a joint venture between Kevi A/S, a technician and the textile artist Nina Koppel. By incorporating nylon into the weave, the upholstery could be stretched in both directions and thus could meet not only the criteria imposed on the new upholstery, but also the rising need on the part of furniture designers for a more malleable fabric that filling could be packed into well, regardless of the shape of the furniture.
Kvadrat saw the potential in an elastic upholstery and took over the marketing of Tonus from Kevi A/S in 1974. However, the quality did not match the standard required by Kvadrat and Tonus was far from the success that had been hoped for. Something was missing. Kvadrat therefore changed the combination of materials, now making it a wool blend with 90% wool and 10% Helanca, whereas it before had been 60% viscose, 30% wool and 10% nylon. This improved the quality considerably. Now things were going a little better, but there was still something missing. Twice consideration was given to simply taking Tonus out of production. As a last resort, the colour range was expanded considerably so that the selection covered a wider colour spectrum and made room for bolder and more exciting colours. Once again, Nina Koppel was behind the combination of colours and this time the success was cut and dried.
Tonus has developed into a genuine classic and is one of the preferred coverings for modern organic furniture designs that require a flexible and yet strong material. Kvadrat has sold more than 4 million metres of Tonus, and the upholstery now comprises a significant part of Kvadrat’s basis collection.
90% wool, 10% helanca
130 cm wide
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