One of the oldest furniture manufacturers in the world, Thonet has been producing furniture of excellence for indoor private and public spaces since 1819. Its Frankenberg facilities have been producing iconic designs for centuries and contemporary designs for decades, and all with the same high standards of craftsmanship and quality materials. These two elements, together with the introduction of state-of-the-art technologies, have made Thonet a successful brand, not only in Europe but also worldwide.
In 1879, Michael Thonet decided to start producing on an industrial scale using an innovative method for bending solid beech wood, a technique that soon became the hallmark of Thonet products.
The workers employed in Thonet factories are highly specialised, drawing also on the experience gained by the company throughout its history. To this day, Thonet creates furniture that is built to last through the combination of two key elements: durable materials and timeless aesthetics. From wood processing to the choice of textile colours, every product is carefully designed to endow it with a strong and unique personality capable of characterising its surrounding setting.
Iconic products that have made history
Thonet products started making history when they began to be used to furnish important meeting places, where hundreds of people would gather to converse or work, like the typical cafés of the mid-19th century. One of the first orders was from the Cafè Daum in Vienna, then frequented by leading aristocrats and military personalities. Thonet decided to furnish the space with Chair No.4, characterised by its curved wood backrest. For the first time, a new demand-oriented production system was introduced, with the chair being completed only upon receipt of the order and according to its specifications.
Furthermore, Thonet established a network of suppliers to streamline the delivery of raw materials and increased the presence of factories in the country to facilitate shipments.
In 1890, Thonet chairs featured in every Viennese café and several artists, such as Henri Toulouse-Lautrec and Henri Matisse, even depicted them in their paintings. During the early 20th century, many social venues, such as cafes, reading clubs and theatres, were furnished with Thonet products and, despite the launch of several new products, for a long time the most popular chair remained No. 14. During the 1930s, Marcel Breuer produced the first interior design products in tubular steel, thus giving rise to two more icons, the S32 chair and the S64 chair. Due to the influence worldwide of Berlin architecture, many other Bauhaus designers showed interest in Thonet furniture and used it for their projects. This heralded a period of great success for the company, which also saw its products used on the big screen. After the end of World War II, the founder’s grand-nephew, now at the head of the company, rebuilt the facilities lost during the conflict and began producing the existing steel tubular models using the latest technologies. In the 1960s, Thonet also began collaborating once more with international designers such as Eiermann, Paton and Paulin.
Thonet furniture has survived major changes due to its extraordinary quality and its ability to adapt to different lifestyles. The charm of tubular steel has survived to this day, and the range of products made using this material is constantly expanding, with classics being reinterpreted to remain in line with customers’ requirements. Worthy of note in this regard is the Range 118 chair by Sebastian Hekner, characterised by a frame featuring a wicker seat, inspired by the iconic Coffee Hause Chair 214.