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Design history -

Industrial design: Roneo furniture - industrial design icons


Roneo furniture: industrial design icons

At the beginning of the 20th Century, Roneo manufactured machines to duplicate typewritten text using stencils and spirit, otherwise known as spirit duplicators.

This process created the 1900s form of mass mailing and gave Roneo's business crucial support at the outset as it financed its diversification towards furniture an area in which it was to become an icon of industrial design.

When the founder's son-in-law Jean Dupuis took over the reins, he decided to develop this business of designing and manufacturing wooden office furniture.

Roneo rapidly launched a complete collection to optimise and furnish office space: bookcases, tables with drawers, chairs and even filing cabinets.

The company also sold counters, cash desks, panels and all forms of commercial fittings.

Before Roneo metal furniture fashioned the industrial design world as we know it today, office furniture was made out of fine wood such as oak, mahogany and walnut, by cabinet-makers in Paris.

They made sure the furniture was built to last long.

In mid-century, numerous safety standards were introduced given the expansion of the services sector and the building of skyscrapers, and these required industrial design manufacturers to adapt accordingly.

Roneo metal furniture and industrial design

Metal office furniture thus came on the scene to reassure company bosses and employees, and to remove any risk of a fire breaking out. Back then, fire situations were difficult to control given that evacuation systems were not as efficient as they are today.

Roneo also decided to sell high-quality furniture, while retaining this policy of durable pieces, adding astute decorative details to add to their industrial design.

Their leaf-drawer filing cabinets for example were enhanced with a gilded border, cardholders and brass drawer knobs.

The company rapidly grasped that service companies were being set up at a rapid pace and that a massive quantity of papers was being produced, hence the need for archiving.

Roneo launched an independent range of furniture that consisted of shelving, filing systems and other forms of storage units. It produced all sorts of objects initially geared to the company but that is now, quite naturally, used in the industrial design setting of a home.

The furniture Roneo designed and manufactured was regarded as excellent, and it thus became the French leader in office furniture. Its pieces are ordered by all the ministries and by major companies such as carmaker Renault and electricity giant EDF.

It was thus logical for the company to develop a furniture research service to help companies find the solutions they required.

In 1970, the founder?s daughter sold the company to an English group, which has since respected to the letter the vibrant approach already in place at Roneo.



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