Born in Germany in 1796, the carpenter and furniture designer Michael Thonet played a key role in the development of the modern movement with the invention of the wood bending process.
Biographie Thonet opened his own cabinet making workshop in 1819, but it was in the early 1840s that he began experimenting with bending and gluing wooden sticks. Thus, in 1841, the first piece of furniture to use the bent wood technique was created: the Boppard Chair. During an exhibition at the Koblenz Fair (1841), the Chancellor of Vienna discovered Thonet's work and convinced him to move to Vienna with his family. Between 1843 and 1846, Thonet and his sons designed a parquet floor for Carl Leistler and furnished the Liechtenstein Palace and the Schwarzenberg Palace. The company was renamed Gebrüder Thonet (Thonet Brothers) in 1853 in honour of the five Thonet sons who inherited the company. In 1859, Thonet creates the Chair No. 14, a model known worldwide as the Viennese Coffeehouse Chair. Thanks to this design, Thonet developed its wood bending process to adapt it to mass production. With more than 50 million copies sold in 1930, the No. 14 is the world's best-selling chair. During the 1860s, Gebrüder Thonet expands and opens subsidiaries throughout Europe. The company's classic designs include the Chair No. 04 for Café Daum (1849), the Rocking Chair No. 1 (1860), No. 18 (1876), No. 209 (1900's) and Otto Wagner's 247 (1904). A source of inspiration for many designers, Thonet influenced Le Corbusier, Josef Hoffmann, Adolf Loos, Marcel Breuer, Alvar Aalto, Yngve Ekström, Otto Wagner and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. His innovation has resulted in the creation of elegant, light and curvilinear designs, anticipating the minimalist forms of modernism. By the time of Thonet's death (1871), Gebrüder Thonet already had subsidiaries in many of Europe's major cities. Today, the company is known as Thonet GmbH and is headquartered in Frankenberg, Germany.
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