THONET bentwood chairs are considered to be the most desirable of all the early bentwood chairs because the bentwood process was invented Michel Thonet in 1836. By 1870 his company, the Thonet Brothers, was the largest furniture maker in the world, making a large variety of furniture made of bentwood. Around 1870 several other companies went into production making bentwood, including Mundus and Kohn. Most of the bentwood seen in the 19th century was made in France, Poland and Austria (Thonet had factories in all locations) and these pieces were shipped all over the world. Thonet and its competitors Mundus and Kohn eventually merged into one company. This company still exists to this day making bentwood products as well as plywood and tubular steel furnishings.
Bentwood chairs are those distinctive chairs that have rounded pieces of wood, bent into curlicues, serving as arms, legs and stretchers. The wood was soaked, steamed, molded and bent into various shapes. Bentwood pieces were usually made from a variety of different woods. Bentwood is most often used in cafe or bistro chairs and stools. Most early bentwood pieces were marked with the country of origin and/or the maker. They were marked with stencils and/or paper labels usually marked in the inside of the rim under the chair's seat.
No. 4c. 1860
Manufacturer: Thonet Brothers
H: 97.0 x W: 6.0 x D: 80.0 cm (38 3/16 x 22 1/16 x 31 1/2 in. )
Bent beech wood, caningMuseum purchase through gift of American Institute of Interior DesignersAustria Frame of curving linear bent beachwood elements; the arms flow into two long parallel runners; caned, oval back joined to elongated oval bent wood element, in turn joined to caned seat supported on the runners by four intertwined circular bentwood form; two curving bentwood supports join lower back to runners.