Thonet chair

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Author: Felipe Rangel
Sometimes you need a 3d model of a specific object to use on a scene and you can’t allow yourself to replace it for something similar. It must be that unique one. Because your client requested it, because it is irreplaceable, because your stubbornness insists on using it, whatever the reason.

In this case, you have two options: either you model it yourself, or you search on the internet for it to download. And depending on the complexity of the object and the project’s deadline, it is much easier and quicker to just download it from somewhere. And downloading ready models is becoming much easier thanks to the ever expanding 3D databases on internet, like the FlyingArchitecture site and many others, with free or paid models.

That’s what I did when I decided to use the no. 14 chair from Thonet (1859) on a scene. I searched everywhere for a good model of it, I spent hours turning Google upside down to find it. And indeed I found some models of it, some great ones, nicely modeled and textured for sale in sites like Turbosquid, and some simplier ones for free, in these sites:

Of course I wasn’t willing to pay (and a lot) to obtain this model, and the free ones were fairly good actually, not perfect but decent. But I was looking for something excellent, a very Nice addition to my library, something that I could throw easily in any Project without looking cartoonish. The 14 would be a great addition, a truly passe-partout chair, an icon of design that is so simple and discret, yet so elegant and timeless.

I also found a 3D dwg file of it at Thonet’s official website. Today, in most of the big design companies websites, you can find 2D or 3D files of their products in a download section, where usually you need to register to have Access to it.

The 3D dwg model downloaded from Thonet’s website was a nightmare of meshes, with very deformed surfaces, useless for a good render, but with accurate dimensions and proportions.

At this point I had to make a decision of what to do to obtain a perfect model of a Thonet 14 chair. And I decided to refine the 3dwg model i got from Thonet, a good starting point.
I’m sorry to disappont a few of you, but I haven’t modeled it from zero, starting from a blueprint. I actually rebuilt everything from an existing model. Some may argue that the merit of the final model is not all mine, and I agree. But this is a very useful method to obtain a decent model starting from a poorer one that do not fulfill your needs, even if this method is laborious and longstanding. And is common to find models that would do great on a scene of yours. Only if they looked decent…

So in this tutorial I’ll go through all the steps to succesfully transform the 3d file of Thonet’s 14 chair into a great and clean NURBS model.

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