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Thonet

Through persistence and creative vision, Austrian cabinetmaker Michael Thonet revolutionized the 19th-century European furniture industry. The early 20th century saw Thonet collaborate with such world-famous designers as Otto Wagner, Marcel Breuer, Le Corbusier and Mies Van der Rohe. In the 1830s, Thonet began experimenting with building chairs and tables out of glued, bent wooden slats. This led to the eventual creation of bentwood furniture. Its light weight and fluid aesthetic stood in stark contrast to the heavy carved designs of the day, and Thonet soon had a thriving business with a wide appeal to all levels of the market. It is difficult to overstate the influence of Thonet’s designs. The firm’s No. 14 Chair, sometimes called Coffee Shop Chair no. 14, was first produced in 1859; 175 years later, this iconic piece is still in production, with some 50 million sales worldwide. In 1941, the firm began U.S. manufacturing in Statesville, North Carolina; other U.S. locations followed, and the American branch officially separated from its European parent company in 1987. Nevertheless, the name Thonet has always stood for high quality, innovation and elegance in furniture. Today’s products include chairs, stools, sofas, benches, tables, modular pieces, credenzas, consoles, shelving units, media cabinets, tandem seating, ottomans, pillows, children’s furniture and more. Finishes include metal, wood, laminate and acrylic, and coverings come in fabric, vinyl, polyurethane and Carnegie textiles. A large collection of original Thonet pieces is owned by the Museum of Applied Arts in Vienna.