Fina flatware by Thomas Feichtner
Published on November 1, 2016
© 2016 Carl Mertens Onlineshop
To this day, the German city of Solingen is a bladesmithing center of worldwide importance. It was in the 13th century that Solingen first became home to the production of swords and other weapons made of iron, and these were joined later on by high-quality steel knives and eating utensils. Cutlery from Solingen has since become so well known that Solingen is the only city in the world which has had its name protected as a trademark. The craft’s intellectual center is the Deutsches Klingenmuseum in Solingen. It not only archives this city’s product history and exhibits foreign historical objects, but also owns the world’s largest collection of cutlery.
It was in 1919 that Carl Mertens founded his synonymous manufactory in Solingen for the fabrication of high-quality stainless steel table settings. To this day, the family-run business—now in its third generation—produces only in Solingen and is viewed as one of the industry’s innovators. Utensils from the Carl Mertens manufactory have by now been acquired by numerous design collections including that of the MoMa, Museum of Modern Art in New York. One part of the company tradition at Carl Mertens is collaboration with contemporary designers and art academies, such the 1958 project with Prof. Max Bill, Ernst Moeckl and the Ulm School of Design, and now with Thomas Feichtner, professor of product design at the Muthesius Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Kiel.
The cutlery set Fina makes formal references to earlier designs by Feichtner such as the drinking glasses Reset (2008) for Stamm and the porcelain service Shortcut (2011) for Viennese Porcelain Manufactory Augarten. Feichtner’s basic idea for Fina was that over a period of years, cutlery can develop an emotional value that goes beyond its utility. Therefore, his approach was focused not only on the independent visual impression made by the design, but also on having it present an assuredly pleasing appearance in everyday use.
Viewed historically and culturally, spoons, knives and forks developed from completely different origins—a fact which explains their usually divergent forms. Feichtner’s design concept is to create a formal connection of the individual parts via stretched surfaces, narrow radiuses and clear, almost constructive, geometric lines. A contrast between a conspicuously wide bowl-end combined with slender handles is evident in all the set’s parts. This dichotomy between fullness and fine lines lends these objects not only their characteristic look, but also the name Fina, in the sense of slender and fine. A symbiosis of elegance and the avant-garde, between tradition and contemporary design.