In the world of piano playing the seat is often taken for granted and we rarely read about manufacturers focusing on the design of piano stools and benches. Piano Street has talked to Zayda Jiménez, founder of Kaunus, a manufacturer who takes both the visual and functional aspects of piano bench design to a new height.
Passion and vision, art made into functionality
Kaunus piano benches are collectors’ items and every bench is handmade by the most precise and delicate hands – up to six different artisans take part in its creation process. The goal is to design and manufacture the best piano bench: aesthetically and technically speaking.Kaunus founder Zayda Jiménez thinks her background as a restorer of antique furniture was decisive when starting the piano bench project. In addition to the technical knowledge about the use of materials and finishes, it allowed her to meet the best craftsmen in their trade and many of them are now part of the manufacturing process of a Kaunus bench.
Jiménez is grateful for what the profession has taught her: to never give up on a piece because behind an old piece of furniture there has been a great story, a life that the restorer must recapture, along with the beauty and splendor it once had.
“This job teaches the art of patience, perseverance and delicacy when working. It teaches us to see and admire that hidden beauty that all the pieces have in order to treat them with the utmost respect: Like those who accompany us in life”, Jiménez says.
Piano Street: Can you tell us how you got involved in this aspect of piano playing?
Zayda Jiménez Guillamón: I have been playing the piano since I was 6 years old and during this time I have been lucky enough to grow and evolve with the instrument: I started renting an old upright piano, continued with a nice studio upright piano and finally got my dream grand piano.
When they arrived at home (the grand piano and the new piano bench), I realized that the evolution of the instrument had been progressive over the years, but the faithful accessory that always accompanies it, the piano bench, continued to go unnoticed.
Although technical progress had been made in height adjustment, its aesthetics had been maintained over the years. The innovation had occurred in the design of the instrument but not in that of the bench: the tandem that should have been perfect was unbalanced.
My experience in furniture design and manufacture and as an amateur pianist who experiences the consequences in practice with an inadequate bench, made me start to work hard and passionate in this project with the firm idea of innovating and creating a balance in the tandem piano-piano bench, that for me, had to be perfect.
My purpose and goal was to design and manufacture the best piano bench: aesthetically and technically speaking. Creating the bench that enhances the beauty of the instrument, the one that accompanies the pianist and takes part of his/her inspiration. This is how Kaunus was born.
PS: Pianists’ bodies and playing postures are different. Which steps do you have to take ergonomically when designing a bench which can suit many?ZJG: Most of the piano benches of certain type (metallic with hydraulic system, wooden with manual regulation system, concert or artist benches with manual or automatic regulation system) have very similar measurements, both in seat size and total height of bench, as well as range of regulation.
Kaunus benches usually accompany grand pianos, which are usually in large rooms and this fact means the proportion grand piano-bench has to be harmonic. This is why we apply what, for us, is the most appropriate measure to create the aesthetic and beauty that we pursue in our designs.
The length and width of the seat is maintained in all Kaunus but the height is always bespoke for the client, since this value is the most important when it comes to make the bench the most ergonomic as possible. Knowing the exact height at which our clients usually play, is the first step in the design of their personalized benches. In this way and manufacturing with that measure in mind, we achieve an optimal use of our KHAS (Kaunus Height Adjustment System), while maintaining the overall aesthetics of the bench, getting the KHAS to interfere as little as possible in the global image of the bench.
PS: The bench height is regulated through your unique KHAS system. What can you tell us about this feature?
ZJG: Kaunus has opted for innovation by developing our own height regulation system, registered under the name KHAS: Kaunus Height Adjustment System. Our goal was to develop a silent, convenient and easy-to-use height adjustment mechanism for our benches and we got it!
The KHAS is a unique, specially developed system with a hydraulic gas spring that guarantees a precise height adjustment (from 1 to 11 cm up) , incorporating an innovative device which displays the precise position selected by each musician.
“We want to bring more beauty to the world,
enhance its emotions and transport you to your most profound feelings.”
PS: You are located in Castellón de la Plana in the community of Valencia, and south of Barcelona. The area represents a rich and interesting heritage of art and design. Can you tell us about your artistic design inspirations when creating your models?
ZJG: I live in an area well known for years for its fine furniture manufacturing and for this reason I am fortunate to have the most expert and delicate hands for the manufacture of every inch of our piano benches.
My passion for the piano makes me listen and attend as many concerts as possible. From these musical experiences comes the inspiration to design.Every piano bench I have designed over the years has been inspired by a musician I admire. Many of them bear their name and I have tried to capture traits of the musician who inspired me to design each Kaunus. Now also wonderfully reflected even through music, thanks to the release of the album “Kaunus Suite”: Musical miniatures, composed by the great musician José Luis Miralles Bono and inspired by each of the Kaunus Legends.
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