The success story

The unique success story of Thonet began with the work of master carpenter Michael Thonet (1796-1871), which established the transition from manual furniture production to industrial production. Michael Thonet succeeded in making the breakthrough to industrial production in 1859 in Vienna with chair No.14, later called the "Vienna coffee house chair", for which the innovative technique of bending solid beech wood was used. The individual production steps were standardized and the division of labour concept was implemented for the first time in furniture production.

In addition, the chair was easy to disassemble and could be shipped in a space-saving way. Chair No.14 cleared the way for Thonet to become a global enterprise, and numerous successful bentwood designs followed. Thonet’s production peaked in 1912: that year, two million units were produced and sold worldwide. Tubular steel furniture is the second constant in Thonet’s product line. In the 1930s, the company was the world’s largest producer of this innovative furniture, which was designed by a number of famous architects including Mart Stam, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Marcel Breuer.

Bent Wood
Claus, Felix, Peter, Philipp & Percy Thonet

Introduction of tubular steel furniture

Due to the success of bentwood furniture, Thonet was known to the avant-gardists of the time, and there was interest in this new kind of furniture and in the tubular steel production technique at Thonet. It was no surprise, then, that an agreement between Thonet and Marcel Breuer for a tubular steel furniture program was signed in 1928. One year later, Thonet acquired Standard Möbel, including the rights to the existing designs, in order to bring a comprehensive tubular steel collection to market. The 1930/31 card catalog impressively demonstrated the breadth of this program. This catalog – a piece of design history in its own right – presents all of the models that Breuer designed for Thonet. The construction in tubular steel and bentwood makes the S 32 / S 64 cantilever chairs among the most successful cantilever chairs to this day.

Thonet design stands for...

Following the tradition and philosophy of Michael Thonet, Thonet in Frankenberg develops products via a careful and innovative design process. Unmistakable and successful products are created by a team of designers, product developers, engineers, and craftsmen with the highest level of craftsmanship. The Thonet design stands for comfortable, timeless and modern furniture. The development focuses on the durability of the products. Therefore, the intelligent selection of materials and efficient use of resource-saving technologies as well as the functionality and aesthetics of the products process at Thonet are part of a solution-oriented and production appropriate design process.

Solid Iroko Wood

Thonet Furniture Designers

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