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Thonet Chairs

Bentwood will forever be associated with Thonet chair styles. With 150 years of wood making under their belt, it’s difficult to associate bending wood techniques and the famed Thonet rocking chair with anyone else. Nothing is left to chance during the innovative bending technique; planned meticulously, each element intrinsically detailed, broken down into a series of individual tasks - men did the steaming and bending, women the less arduous sanding, finishing, and caning of every vintage Thonet chair.

Michael Thornet is the man behind the "bentwood" furniture legacy. Beautiful curved lines, sleek steamed wood shaping, blond wood charm and aged patina. These characteristics alongside expert craftsmanship and stunning design make Thonet bentwood chairs the creme de la creme of the seating sphere. A part of every design aficionados dream, find your perfect Thonet style chair from our expertly curated collection.

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What is so special about Michael Thonet Furniture?

Michael Thonet, the pioneer of bentwood furniture, the famed Thonet rocking chair, and fine woodworking, began his legacy from a small workshop in Boppard am Rhein, Germany, in 1819. Read more about his life, his work, and his vision in our informative blog post. The sturdiness, structure, and beauty of Thonet style chairs have endured the test of time. Thonet worked independently as a cabinet maker following a carpenter's apprenticeship. In the 1830s, he began his furniture experiments with veneer strips cooked in glue to make bent wooden pieces. His successful attempt at the first object was the legendary Boppard Thonet chair. Prince Richard Metternich took notice of the novelty Thonet bentwood chair and furniture and invited Michael to join him at his Vienna Palace. The Prince already had ideas to promote Austria Industrialism, and over the next five years, he worked on the Neorococo interiors inside the Palace. Numerous attempts to patent his newfound bending wood experiment had already failed across Europe and Russia. Germany, Great Britain, and France refused his petition. His breakthrough to success with the solid wood bent into curved, graceful shapes arrived when an Austrian court granted him the rights to design his elegant novelties. The Thonet's were now ready for mass production.

In 1857 they built a new factory in Koritschan in the Moravian forests and started to produce bounds of Thonet rocking chairs and renowned furniture pieces, Protected by his patent, it was the only manufacturer legally allowed to produce and bring bentwood furniture to the market. His work struck the international spotlight, attending fairs, exhibitions and opening various branches, and before long, his acclaimed bistro Thonet chair made an appearance in almost every coffee shop across Vienna. The novel, elegant, lightweight, and durable Thonet chair No. 14 marked an era in the Mid-Century Modern movement with its aesthetic and functional appeal. In the 1980s, the company was divided into a German, and an Austrian company, Thonet Vienna and Gebrüder Thonet became Thonet GmbH, headquartered in Frankenberg; both companies remain independent of each other. Thonet sons Michael, Josef, August, Franz, Jakob have all held key positions in the family firm and ensured its continued success after his passing. Manufacturing original, bentwood, and tubular steel furniture alongside new works by contemporary, international architects and designers, Thonet still stands for high-quality, innovative, and elegant furnishings. A line of classic Thonet furniture awaits you; discover the collection online today.


Where are Thonet chairs made?

Today, Thonet chairs are produced in Frankenberg, Germany. The manufacture of Thonet bentwood chairs is now overseen by Thorsten Muck.

What are Thonet chairs made of?

The bentwood nature of Thonet chairs requires the use of malleable wood. Light, resilient wood is bent using hot steam to increase the flexibility of the solid wood pieces. With just six pieces of wood and a couple of fixings, Thonet's iconic bentwood chairs could be made on a mass scale.

How to identify a Thonet chair?

With many reproductions on the market, it can be challenging to source a genuine piece. Look out for:

  • Stamps: Embossed under the seat frame should be a stamped mark. These are present in early examples. Later examples have paper labels as a means of identification.
  • Braces: These optional arm frames should sit flush with the seat. Reproductions or forgeries don't and look more clumsy.

Are Thonet chair styles valuable?

Thonet chairs are rapidly increasing in value. To maximise value, source chairs that come as part of a set rather than as individual pieces.

At Vinterior, we've handpicked the finest genuine pieces from trusted sellers across the U.K. and Europe, so you can shop with confidence.

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