Thonet - A Milestone in Industrial Design and the Beginning of the Modern Furniture Industry
The manufacturer Thonet is one of the oldest family-run furniture manufacturers in the world and has gone down in history with the revolutionary production of coffee house furniture and its iconic chair No. 14 (today 214).
Thonet's success story began back in 1819 in Boppard am Rhein, where Michael Thonet ran his workshop for bentwood technology. There, in 1830, he was the first to develop a process for bending solid wood using steam. A revolution in the wood industry. The use of a tension strap limits the elongation of the outer zones and compresses the inner zone more. The wood is first made soft and elastic with steam. The result: the outside does not splinter and the wood is permanently bent. For the wood industry this innovation meant a much more efficient work. The loss of wood was thus reduced to a minimum and new shapes could be created.
In 1842 Prince Metternich became aware of Thonet's work and brought him and his family to Vienna. He perfected his bentwood technique in the 1850s. In 1853 he gave his company to his sons, the company was called "Gebrüder Thonet". The company achieved its major breakthrough in 1859 with the Viennese coffee house chair - the chair no. 1 4. . The chair is still the most successful industrial product of all time and Michael Thonet is regarded as a pioneer of industrial design. It was with him that the era of the modern furniture industry began.
On one cubic metre of a transport box, 36 disassembled No. 14 chairs including screws had space and could thus be transported cost-effectively all over the world. They were assembled on site. By 1930 alone, 50 million chairs had been produced and conquered the cafés of major European cities. The appearance of the city's public squares is also changed by the no. 14 chair. Heavy upholstered furniture was replaced by the light, graceful bistro chairs, which could be used flexibly and stowed away in a space-saving manner.
Stainless steel furniture completes the assortment
From Vienna, the brothers expanded the Thonet empire. They had factories built in various European countries. During this time they also received support and encouragement from Emperor Franz Josef I of Austria-Hungary. Patriotic loyalty to the emperor, however, caused the company to slide into crisis at the end of the First World War. The Thonet brothers therefore decided in 1921 to merge with the Jewish merchant Leopold Pilzer from Hungary and his Mundus corporation, making them the largest furniture manufacturer in the world.
Pilzer it was also the steel furniture that established Thonet in the range. Thonet recognised the potential of curved steel furniture at an early stage and secured the rights to the designs of numerous Bauhaus representatives such as Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Mart Stam and Le Corbusier. Since then, Marcel Breuer's cantilever chair for Thonet has been one of the most important innovations of the last century. The clear appearance of the steel furniture, which is regarded as a milestone in the history of design, was the expression of a new everyday culture and architecture called "New Objectivity". At that time, Thonet was not only the market leader for bentwood furniture, but was also able to assert itself as the number 1 in the steel furniture industry.
In Frankenberg, Thonet's newest factory, built in 1889, innovative products are still being developed today that are always geared to durability and convince with their material quality and timeless design language. The factory of today's Thonet GmbH is equipped with state-of-the-art production technology as well as specific know-how that has been gathered over two centuries of the company's history.
The products of the long-established Thonet company are characterized by their longevity and do not harm the environment during manufacture or disposal. Before new products are introduced, attention is paid in detail to sustainability, environmental friendliness and the recyclability of materials, which is already at least 95%.
Thonet obtains 100% of its electricity from ecological and sustainable energy sources. The company is also investing in solvent recycling facilities to reduce its environmental footprint. The processed wood comes from sustainable forestry and is FSC or PEFC certified.
Thonet has been awarded the Green Globe certificate for 10 consecutive years and is a Platinum member of the organization that assesses sustainability in terms of environmental friendliness, social responsibility and economic profitability in companies.
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