Thonet
1829 - 1910

Michael THONET

Biography

Thonet opened his own cabinetmaking workshop in 1819, but it was in the early 1840s that he began experimenting with bending and gluing sticks of wood. Thus, in 1841, the first piece of furniture to use the bentwood technique saw the light of day: 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 honor of Thonet's five sons, who inherited the business. In 1859, Thonet created Chair No. 14, a model known worldwide as the Viennese Coffeehouse Chair. Thanks to this design, Thonet was able to develop its wood-bending process for mass production. Selling over 50 million units by 1930, the No. 14 is the world's best-selling chair. In the 1860s, Gebrüder Thonet expanded and opened subsidiaries throughout Europe. The company's classic designs include Chair No. 04 for Café Daum (1849), 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 led to the creation of elegant, light, curvilinear designs, anticipating the minimalist forms of modernism. By the time Thonet died (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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