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Thonet Furniture

Austrian, German

For more than 180 years, Thonet — or Gebrüder Thonet — has produced elegant and durable tables and cabinets as well as chairs, stools and other seating that wholly blur the lines between art and design. Widely known as a trailblazer in the use of bentwood in furniture, the European manufacturer has reimagined the places in which we gather.

Noted for his skill in parquetry, German-Austrian company founder Michael Thonet received an invitation from Austrian Chancellor Prince Metternich to contribute Neo-Rococo interiors to the Liechtenstein City Palace in Vienna. The Boppard-born Thonet had honed his carpentry skills in his father’s workshop, where he carried out experiments with plywood and modified the Biedermeier chairs that populated the studio. 

Thonet’s work for the chancellor raised his profile, and the cabinetmaker gained international recognition, including at London’s Great Exhibition of 1851, which featured works created by members of the Arts and Crafts movement as well as industrial products of the day. Thonet showed a range of furniture at the fair and won the bronze medal for his bentwood chairs. He ​​incorporated his family’s company, the Thonet Brothers, with his sons in 1853

Bentwood furniture dates as far back as the Middle Ages, but it is the 19th-century cabinetmaker Thonet who is most often associated with this now-classic technique. Thonet in 1856 patented a method for bending solid wood through the use of steam, and from there, the bentwood look skyrocketed to furniture fame. The works of renowned mid-century modern designers such as Alvar Aalto, Arne Jacobsen, and Charles and Ray Eames that put this technological advancement to use would not be as extensive or celebrated were it not for the efforts of the pioneering Thonet.

Considered the world’s oldest mass-produced chair, Michael Thonet’s ubiquitous Chair No. 14 demonstrated that his patented bentwood technology made it possible to efficiently produce furniture on an industrial scale. Now known as the 214, it won the German Sustainability Award Design for 2021, a recognition of the company’s commitment to environmentally responsible production.

Often called the Coffee House chair — the company’s first substantial order was for a Viennese coffeehouse — the No. 14 remains an icon. Thonet originally designed the chair in 1859, and it is considered the starting point for modern furniture.

The bentwood process opened doors — there were investments in machinery and new industrial processes, and the business began mass-producing furniture. By the end of the 1850s, there were additional Thonet workshops in Eastern Europe and hundreds of employees. Michael Thonet’s reputation attracted the attention of notable architects including Otto Wagner, Marcel Breuer and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe

The No. 14 was followed by the No. 18, or the Bistro chair, in 1867, and the 209, or the Architect’s chair, of which Le Corbusier was a fan. (The influential Swiss-French architect and designer used Thonet furniture in his Pavillon de l’Esprit Nouveau at the 1925 International Exposition of Decorative Arts in Paris.)

Thonet’s chair designs also appeared in artwork by Toulouse-Lautrec, John Sloan and Henri Matisse in his Interior with a Violin Case. The noteworthy Thonet rocking chair remains a marvel of construction — in the middle of the 19th century, Michael produced a series of rockers in which the different curved parts were integrated into fluid, sinuous wholes. Thanks to Thonet, the humble rocker acquired something unexpected: style. It was captured in the paintings of Pablo Picasso, Pierre-Auguste Renoir and James Tissot

Thonet is currently split into global divisions. Thonet Industries U.S.A. was acquired in 1987 by Shelby Williams and joined the CF Group in 1999, while the Thonet brand in Germany is owned by Thonet GmbH.

Find a collection of antique Thonet furniture on 1stDibs.

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Creator: Thonet
Dealer: Antiquities
Pair of Streamline Lounge Chairs and Sofa by Thonet
By Thonet
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Pair of streamline lounge chairs and streamline sofa by Thonet in sage cotton velvet and maple stained legs. Dimensions for chairs: 33 H x...
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1950s American Art Deco Vintage Thonet Furniture

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Cotton, Velvet

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Thonet furniture for sale on 1stDibs.

Thonet furniture are available for sale on 1stDibs. These distinctive items are frequently made of wood and are designed with extraordinary care. There are many options to choose from in our collection of Thonet furniture, although brown editions of this piece are particularly popular. We have 723 vintage editions of these items in-stock, while there is 1 modern edition to choose from as well. Many of the original furniture by Thonet were created in the mid-century modern style in europe during the 20th century. If you’re looking for additional options, many customers also consider furniture by August Thonet, Karl Fostel Sen’s Erben, and Franz Schuster. Prices for Thonet furniture can differ depending upon size, time period and other attributes — on 1stDibs, these items begin at $145 and can go as high as $27,500, while a piece like these, on average, fetch $1,999.
Questions About Thonet Furniture
  • 1stDibs ExpertApril 5, 2022
    Thonet is a well known furniture company that was started by Michael Thonet in 1830 as he experimented with bentwood furniture. The brand is known for producing high-quality products with exquisite craftsmanship. Shop a collection of Thonet furniture from some of the world’s top sellers on 1stDibs.
  • 1stDibs ExpertFebruary 13, 2024
    A Thonet chair can be any chair developed by the furniture maker Thonet, which has been manufacturing furniture for more than 180 years. However, most people are referring to one designed by founder Gebrüder Thonet. It features a bentwood frame produced with a patent steam method that Thonet patented and a curved seat. Find a range of Thonet chairs on 1stDibs.
  • 1stDibs ExpertMarch 3, 2023
    Perhaps the most significant thing about the Thonet chair was that it was the first chair to ever be shipped in parts with instructions that allowed the purchaser to assemble it themselves. As a result, the beech wood and rattan chairs could be mass produced and sold all over the world more easily. Shop a range of Thonet chairs on 1stDibs.
  • 1stDibs ExpertApril 5, 2022
    An authentic Thonet chair will have the company’s name with a solid line underneath carved somewhere on the chair. The brand can also confirm the authenticity and age of a Thonet chair via its website. Shop a variety of authentic Thonet furniture on 1stDibs.
  • 1stDibs ExpertFebruary 13, 2023
    A Thonet-style chair is a wooden chair that has a curvy, bent backrest, a round seat and subtly flared legs. The chairs get their name from the original manufacturer, Thonet, which produced chairs in the mid-century modern style in Europe during the 20th century. Shop a range of Thonet furniture on 1stDibs.
  • 1stDibs ExpertApril 5, 2022
    Michael Thonet is a German-Austrian furniture maker who designed the famed bentwood chair in 1830. His last name, Thonet, is pronounced “TOE-net,” but it’s commonly mispronounced “tho-NAY.” Shop a collection of vintage and modern Michael Thonet pieces on 1stDibs.
  • 1stDibs ExpertMarch 22, 2022
    Yes, Thonet chairs are marked. You will usually find the brand's label on a tag or burned into the wood under the seat. On 1stDibs, you can shop a variety of expertly vetted Thonet furniture from top sellers around the world.
  • 1stDibs ExpertApril 5, 2022
    Whether or not Thonet chairs are stackable depends on their design. The bentwood chairs produced by the company do easily stack, but others like cantilever chairs do not. Find a range of Thonet chairs forms some of the world’s top sellers on 1stDibs.
  • 1stDibs ExpertApril 5, 2022
    To identify a Thonet rocking chair, look for the company name. You will normally find it stamped directly onto the underside of the seat, arms or legs. You can find a collection of expertly vetted Thonet rocking chairs on 1stDibs.
  • 1stDibs ExpertFebruary 13, 2024
    To tell if a Thonet chair is real, you can use Thonet's authenticity verification service. To take advantage of it, you will need to take many photographs of the chair from different angles and close-up images of markings and paper labels. You can learn more about the authentication process on the Thonet website. Shop a diverse assortment of Thonet chairs on 1stDibs.

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