Artisanship and Craft

Inside The Steinway Piano Factory In New York. 

By Nina Azzarello

May 22, 2016

Since its founding in 1853 in a Manhattan loft on Varick Street, Steinway & Sons has been considered one of the world’s finest piano manufacturers. Over the next thirty years, German immigrant Henry Engelhard Steinweg and his sons developed the modern piano, building each instrument one at a time. Now — more than 160 years later — the grands, uprights, limited-editions and special collections are still primarily constructed by hand, using skills passed down from master to apprentice over several generations.

To document the making of a piano, designboom went inside the Steinway Factory in New York. Every aspect of the instrument’s evolution from a stack of wood to a playable piece has been expertly considered and carefully executed. Laborious procedures are carried out alongside meticulous ones: the rim-bending process sees a series of craftsmen carry laminated wood onto large metal presses, which they then forcefully clamp into place to create the piano rim; an Italian artisan working at Steinway for more than 30 years carefully hand carves ornamental details for special editions like the louis XV and the Chippendale. See designboom’s walkthrough of the factory’s workshops, restoration rooms, and storage spaces to see the craftsmen at work.  

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