A conversation with Mr. Fox
The history of the fox is the history of the Brunner company. Because everything started with the fox. Rolf Brunner is on a mission to discover use and benefits - and it is still remained.
All began back in the days of municipal incorporation in Germany. Rolf Brunner remembers it well: “Every time a group of communities joined together, the authorities built a community hall and these halls needed furniture.” And so, he travelled from committee to committee and learned which chairs were needed. And what they had to be able to cope with.
“I remember Manfred Fetscher, the architect, from Lake Constance. He was a real rebel, who was determined not to have the same chairs that were already being used in 50 other halls.”, says Rolf Brunner. He got a rough sketch. The drawing showed a chair with a handbag holder – the basic idea of the fox.
So that the chairs also interlock with each other perfectly, he invented the stacking bar. As well as another useful feature of the fox: “jam-free” type of frame, to avoid your fingers being trapped between chairs.
We can’t reinvent the art of sitting, but we can change what we sit on.
Over time, many useful features have been added to fox. Nevertheless, it has not lost none of its independent design.
Rolf Brunner remembers another event which was important for the development of fox: For the equipment of the trade fair in Düsseldorf, a row linking device on the chair was needed. At the time it was almost unthinkable to add a linking element to this elegant chair. But not impossible for Rolf Brunner.
So, the furniture manufacturer drove home and invited his brother for dinner. I said to him: “Mannes, you have exactly one week to create a row linking device that is invisible.” No sooner said than done. Mannes (who is actually called Manfred) is a trained engineer and is still one of the most important design engineers of Brunner Group. In his ideas workshop, engineers succeed in one stroke of genius after another. A removable writing tablet for the University of Saudi Arabia. A chair for a church in Holland, with an integrated holder for hymn books: Mannes make it happen. Everything here has its purpose, its function, and its use.
You can’t design a good chair just by sitting at your desk. You need real life experience. And consideration of the needs of the people who will use it.
It was also Rolf and Manfred who created the original fox without really involving a designer. 41 years lie between the very first fox and its latest reincarnation. And 16 different shapes of fox. “Although, the very latest frame is still pretty much the same as its original design.”, says Rolf Brunner.
And Rolf Brunner has taken a seat on a fox at least 10,000 times somewhere in the world. An estimated 2.5 million of them are currently in use. But the question remains, does he have a personal favourite amongst all the different models and variants? Not so. Rolf Brunner doesn’t have a favourite fox: “I love all the foxes. All of them.”