Bentwood furniture has always fascinated me, I like the shapes and curves that can be produced by the few specialist cabinetmakers able to achieve this style with still ensuring the furniture appears to and actually feels inviting and comfortable.
|A Pair of Bentwood Chairs circa 1930's, Available from; www.oldplank.com|
The master and probably the founder of this technique was a gentleman by the name of Michael Thonet.
In 1819 at the age of 23 and after serving an apprenticeship as a carpenter this young German/Austrian man started work on his own as a cabinetmaker. He first started trying to build furniture from gluing pieces of bent wooden slats together and after persevering with this for several years finally succeeded in 1836, designing and building a chair known as the “Bopparder Schichtholzstuhl” in German or the “Boppard Layerwood” in English.
|A modern version of the "Bopparder Schichtholzstuhl" Chair, Available from ; www.thonet.de|
Eventually after many attempts to patent his idea with no success he finally had a breakthrough which was to change the entire future of “Bentwood “ furniture. This was the ability and technique of being able to bend, curve and shape wood by forming it using a very hot steam process.
Once he had mastered this process it enabled him to begin to produce a wide range of chairs in various shapes and styles along with a smaller range of other furniture.
|Set of 6 Austrian Bentwood Chairs by Thonet, Signed J.J.Kohn. Available from; www.electiques.1stdibs.com|
|Rare German/Austrian Thonet Chaise Longue circa 1900's, Available from;www.1stdibs.com|
|A German Bentwood Hall Stand circa 1890 by Thonet, Available from; www.judyfrankelantiques.com|
During his life Michael Thonet won numerous awards & prizes for his furniture mainly for his chairs. After he died in 1871 his company continued to flourish and by 1930 had sold in excess of 50 million chairs.
There are numerous styles of Thonet chairs and each is recorded as a number rather than giving each style a name, this practice is still current today in the Thonet company.
|Michael Thonet (aged 65)|
Today Thonet are still producing traditional “Bentwood” chairs and other furniture from their factories in Germany and added tubular metal seating to their range in the 1930's, now keeping up with the modern styles and trends there's some great colours involved too. Their website really is worth checking out at; http://www.thonet.de
|2 from a Set of 6 Mid Century Chairs by Thornet, Available from; www.nyshowplace.com|
|A Pair of Bentwood Stands Circa 1906, Designed by J&J Kohn for Thonet, Available from; www.novecentoantiques.com|