Chair (bentwood)

Thonet GmbH

Thonet No.14 (1859), Michael Thonet

Founded in 1853 by Michael Thonet as ‘Gebrüder Thonet’, Thonet is a European furniture manufacturer, particularly known for their bentwood furniture made with a unique steam-bending technology. In 1976 Gebrüder Thonet was divided into a German (Thonet GmbH) and an Austrian company (Thonet Vienna) who work independent form each other. Michael Thonet’s direct descendants in the fifth and sixth generation remain involved in the company’s business.

Designed by Michael Thonet and introduced in 1859, their best known piece was the No. 14 chair. With its affordable price and simple design, the icon of Parisian cafes and bistros became one of the best-selling chairs ever made. The chair consists of six pieces of steam-bent wood, ten screws, and two nuts. The chairs could be mass-produced by unskilled workers and disassembled to save space during transportation. Chair No 14, today known as 214, is still is still in production today.

Trivia: Thonet chairs have been praised by many designers and architects, including Le Corbusier. Le Corbusier’s personal favorite was the Thonet 209, as pictured below, which therefore became the most collectable bentwood chair.


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Photo credits
© Thonet GmbH, Frankenberg, Germany

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