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Are You Sitting on Thonet?

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Okay, not literally sitting on him, but you might be sitting on his legacy to design, the Bentwood chair tradition of furniture making.  Michael Thonet (pronounced TOE-NET) lived from 1796 to 1871 and was a German-Austrian cabinet maker whose innovative design created lightweight and elegant chairs that remain fashionable to this day.  Thonet’s most famous design, Chair No. 14, is known as the “chair of chairs” or the coffee shop chair.

Look familiar?

TIDBITS & TWINE -  Thonet's Bentwood Chair no 14
{via Pinterest}

 

Not only were Thonet’s bentwood designs a departure from the heavy, carved designs of the past, but they were also more affordable, both in materials and shipping costs.  He discovered a process of bending wood (hence the term bentwood) using steam that allowed him to create chairs using just a few pieces of wood held together by screws, providing an economy of materials.  He founded his company, Gebrüder Thonet, and along with his sons, began producing a variety of styles all using the bentwood process.

TIDBITS & TWINE - Thonet Chairs

 

So why all this talk about Michael Thonet? 

 

Well, not only do you see his signature coffee house chair still in use at restaurants and cafes, but his style has influenced many other designs, including the ever-popular X Back (or Cross Back) chair with the handwoven rattan seat, which is my current obsession.

Hello, Beautiful!

TIDBITS & TWINE - Cross back chair
{via Indeed Decor}

 

 

I love that this chair is simple, graceful and neutral, allowing it to work in a variety of design styles.

TIDBITS & TWINE - X back kitchen chair
{via Brian Watford}
TIDBITS & TWINE - X back bistro chair
{via Restoration Hardware}
TIDBITS & TWINE - X back black
{via Honey Dearest}
TIDBITS & TWINE - X back kitchen chairs
{via Christine Kelly}

 

Given its simple wood design, it also pairs nicely with chairs of a completely different style.

TIDBITS & TWINE - X back dining chair with slipcovers
{via Picture Perfect Home}
TIDBITS & TWINE - X back chair with banquette
{via Kress Jack at Home}
TIDBITS & TWINE - X back dining chair
{via Marie Burgos Design}
TIDBITS & TWINE - X back chair with woven head chairs
{via Cyndi Parker Interiors}

 

These chairs are suitable for more than just the kitchen and dining room, and also work well in home offices, as well as accent chairs throughout the house.

TIDBITS & TWINE - X back office chair
{via Kate Jackson Design}
TIDBITS & TWINE - X back accent chair
{via Enviable Designs Inc.}

 

If you’re on the lookout for one of these chairs, you can have your pick from many different finishes and price ranges given the number of retailers currently selling them.

 

Restoration Hardware Madeleine Side Chair – $99

TIDBITS & TWINE - Madeleine Side Chair from Restoration Hardware

 

Ballard Designs Constance Side Chair – Set of 2 $279

TIDBITS & TWINE - Constance Side Chair from Ballard Designs

 

Target Safavieh Franklin Cross Back Chair – Set of 2 $139.99

TIDBITS & TWINE - Safavieh Franklin Chair from Target

Home Decorators Collection Hamilton – Set of 2 $249

TIDBITS & TWINE - Hamilton Bentwood Chair from Home Decorators Collection

 

Williams Sonoma Bosquet Chair – $149

TIDBITS & TWINE - Bosquet Chair from Williams Sonoma

 

Cost Plus World Market French Bistro Side Chairs – Set of 2 $239.98

TIDBITS & TWINE - French Bistro Chair from Cost Plus

 

Last week I even saw a pair of bentwood chairs at HomeGoods…now I’m kicking myself that I didn’t get them for my kitchen!

TIDBITS-&-TWINE---The-Bentwood-Chair

 

So the next time you’re at a restaurant or out shopping and see a bentwood chair, you’ll now know that they were inspired by Thonet!

 

Do you have a bentwood chair in your home?

 

Tidbits&Twine - Signature

 

 

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7 Comments

  1. Thank you for all the great information… very interesting!

    I do own a bentwood rocker. We bought it over 30 years ago, and I used it to rock both my babies (now 30 and 27). However, I am passing the chair to my daughter, who is due in July with our first grandbaby! I love that she will rock her baby in the same chair she was rocked in as a baby.

    1. Tidbits&Twine says:

      Karen – What a wonderful thing to pass on to your daughter and how exciting about the new grandbaby! I hope you have many precious moments in the rocker with the new little one. :)

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