Michael Thonet

A skilled craftsman, Michael Thonet was born in the small river town of Boppard am Rhein in 1976. He was a German-Austrian cabinet maker, known for the invention of bentwood furniture. He painstakingly carved his furniture from European Beech until he discovered a method of bending wood then patented a process of bending under heat several layers of wood veneer glued together and laminated, and he used the new material to create curved back-rails and legs on chairs, contoured headboards for beds and scrolled arms for sofas. Among Thonet’s most popular designs were those of café chairs, rocking chairs, and hat stands. His solid bentwood furniture, never out of production, was again made fashionable in the 1920s by the renowned modern architect and designer Le Corbusier. The 1859 coffee shop chair no. 14 is still called the ‘chair of chairs’ with some 50 million produced up until 1930. It yielded a gold medal for Thonet's enterprise at the 1867 Paris World's Fair. Michael Thonet’s death on March 3,1871 may have marked the end of an era, but it did not stop the Thonet family from continuing research and experimentation.

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