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With its two hundred years of history, Thonet is one of the oldest furniture manufacturers in the world. Two hundred years that have left their mark on the evolution of design, beginning the history of modern furniture. The entire Thonet collection contains timeless design classics in both curved wood and tubular steel from the Bauhaus period. Innovation, quality and flexibility are the key words that summarize the philosophy of the historic brand. Thonet's story begins in 1859, when its founder Michael Thonet, at the time a cabinetmaker and pioneer of industrial design, moved to Vienna, where, thanks to the support of the Prince of Metternich, he decided to start a production of furniture using the unprecedented technique of bending solid beech wood. With his greatest success, chair no. 14, today 214, Michael Thonet was able to bring a decisive innovation to the world of design, revolutionizing the shapes of classic period furniture and adapting to industrial mass production. From that moment on, Thonet became a world-class company and the iconic chair no. 14 soon became the symbol of Viennese coffee shops. The 214 chair is today among the best-selling chairs in the world despite about 150 years of market presence and icon used in famous films and works of art.
The Thonet principle: from curved wood to tubular steel
The design scene of the 1920s and 1930s, dominated by the Bauhaus, also gave its avant-garde contribution to the Thonet company. Inspired by the curved shapes of the products made so far, great architects such as Marcel Breuer, Le Corbusier, Mart Stam and Mies van der Rohe shifted the focus from curved wood to tubular steel. The work had a different and innovative organization: no worker built a whole chair, but only a part of it, always the same. This made the production process faster and hundreds of chairs left the factory daily. Thus the idea of the assembly line was born.
In fact, the "Thonet principle" can be summed up in an idea and a finite number of components that facilitate the assembly of each piece of furniture, making it easily transportable and therefore exportable all over the world. By simplifying the design and components of the chair, Michael Thonet was also able to make an important contribution to sales shipments: as many as 36 disassembled chairs, including screws, were able to fit into a one cubic metre box, and once at their destination, the chairs could easily be assembled on site.
Thonet: the historical icons of design
In addition to the famous chairs, over the years Thonet has produced a whole series of furniture including upholstered furniture, tables, complements for home and contract, which soon became milestones in the history of design, true icons sold and still appreciated today. With their simple names similar to alphanumeric codes, Thonet's chairs, tables and furnishing accessories always remain true to the spirit of its founder's cabinetmaker. Historic icons include the elegant B 10 table designed by Marcel Breuer and the S 826 tubular steel rocking chair designed by Ulrich Böhme for Thonet.
Today Thonet is based in Frankenberg, Germany and is headed by Thorsten Muck and his exclusive collections are sold in specialist stores around the world. The company still continues to reconcile its tradition and craftsmanship with the development of new models, anticipating constantly changing living trends. Thonet is constantly expanding its collection, revisiting the classics in tubular steel and curved wood in numerous variations and editions, and including new models resulting from collaboration with nationally and internationally renowned designers. The courage to dare with ever-new proposals, cutting-edge technology and unusual design, while remaining firmly rooted in the company's rich tradition, has made Thonet known throughout the world.
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