Thonet chair: a classic and timeless design

Thonet chair: between history and legend


The Thonet chair, known as Thonet 14 or how available Thonet 14, is one of the most famous chairs in history. It is characterized by simplicity, elegance, lightness and strength, characteristics that have made it a real icon, an industrial giant in the world of design.

It was designed in 1859 by Michael Thonet and to create the sinuous lines that characterized the Ready Thonet , studied the technique of using the vapor, thanks to which it was possible to soften and shape the solid wood to obtain the desired curvature and shape.

According to a French legend, during the 1889 Paris Universal Exposition, chair no. Thonet’s 14 fell from the Eiffel Tower, plummeting about 57 meters. It is said that, in the crash, the chair remained completely intact. Thus, from that moment the myth of this legendary chair spread.


The real luck of Thonet , and his new chair, is also due toinnovative manufacturing technique which allowed for the first time in the history of furniture to operate a production that can be defined as industrial and in series.

The manufacturing process was based on reducing the number of pieces and the time required for assembly. The processing method, above all, was no longer purely artisanal but rather semi-mechanized: Thonet production was standardized, based on a preliminary preliminary design and then reproduced in series, it was easy to transport and to assemble and it was sold at a low price.

This was, in fact, made up of only six elements, easily assembled using a few screws and this allowed the company to be able to ship the chair model anywhere in a simple and comfortable way, storing 35 disassembled chairs in a one cubic meter box. subsequently assembled on site.


Thonet also applied solutions to his chairs in order to contain the costs: it used chemical substances, thanks to which the use of expensive wood essences was reduced, which were replaced with thin veneers.


Since then millions of copies of this chair have been sold, reaching a record of two million pieces in 1912, not counting the countless imitations which over time have spread.
In a short time, therefore, chair no. 14 spread everywhere, especially in public spaces and was appreciated and used in cafes in Vienna, which is why it also began to be called Vienna chair.

Characteristics of a Thonet style chair


The immediately striking feature of a Thonet chair, beloved by fans of this style, is the characteristic curved wood which forms the back of the furniture.

The available Thonet n.14 it is the most famous among those designed and produced by the Thonet company.
It is also known as the chair bistrot, has a affordable price it’s a classic design, simple and timeless. This has allowed her not only to have great success in the furniture market, but to become a real design icon.

Ready Thonet 14
He became one of the best seller never made before: between 1860 and 1930 some 50 million pieces were sold and millions more have been sold since then.

The chair is made up of six pieces of steam-bent wood, ten screws and two nuts.
The wooden parts were made by heating the drugs to 100 degrees centigrade thereafter curvate in cast iron molds, and then dried at about 70 ° C for 20 hours.

Thanks to its clear and stripped-down aesthetic, this classic has found its place in a wide variety of settings for beyond 150 anni.

Ready Thonet n.14
Thonet # 14 chair is widely considered a design classic, it has been appreciated and praised by many designers and architects such as Le Corbusier who considered it the best design product ever created, an extraordinary integration of technique and style.
Even today it continues to fascinate and make many amateurs and admirers fall in love, as well as many collectors all over the world, maintaining its great charm and character unchanged.

Thonet is even exhibited in major design museums around the world, such as the MOMA of New York or the Vitra Museum in Germany.

The Thonet chair today and numerous inspirations


Today chair no. 14 Thonet has changed its name. The current model, which is still produced by the parent company, in the Thonet GmbH factory in Frankemberg in Hesse, is called ready n. 214.


It always remains a chair a lot sober and elegant, used above all in the furnishing of restaurants and bars in a classic style, or in homes where a particular effect is desired bistrot.

The Thonet chair is made of solid beech wood, it is therefore characterized by a solid structure and can have different colors: natural, cherry, walnut or wenge.
The seat, on the other hand, can be in Vienna straw, like the original Thonet chairs, in wood or in fabric.

Ready Thonet n.214
Today there are many proposals of various models inspired by the Thonet chair, for example the models Corvettina, Corvette Canna The Elisa of IDEALSEDIA, that is chairs in bent wood in the classic style, in beech color. They are very light chairs but at the same time particularly resistant, thanks to the frame glued and hooked with support arches.

The seat and back are made of Vienna straw; the structure can be in wood color or lacquered.

Thonet inspired chairs, IDEALSEDIA, corvette line
Also IDFdesign proposes various chair models inspired by Thonet n.14 Viennese chairs with structure in curved beech wood available in natural, cherry, walnut, dark walnut, wengè and black or white lacquered. I’m Vienna straw chairs, in wood, or padded and upholstered in fabric or eco-leather of different colors. The seat has a diameter of 37.5 cm.

Bentwood chairs inspired by Thonet, IDFDESIGN
There are also other models of wooden chairs with cane seat and oval backrest, or sessions which have both the seat and the backrest in cane, much appreciated and used in pubs and bars.

They are among the IDFDESIGN proposals also seated in old style in curved wood without armrests, used a lot both in bars and apartments.


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