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The Thonet Principle

The Thonet Principle

1 Idea
6 Parts
2 Screwnuts
10 Screws


It is a success story with many facets

The starting point was a new technique – the bending of solid wood – that Michael Thonet perfected during the 1850s, enabling mass production. Added were new and simple aesthetics and a low price,

which represented a revolution in interior design: suddenly, homes, restaurants and cafés looked entirely different; they were lighter and less massive.

„Never before has anything been created
 that is more elegant and better in its
 conception, more precise in its
 design and more functional.”
   Le Corbusier

An ingenious distribution idea

36 disassembled chairs including the screws were packed in a transport box with a volume of one cubic meter and shipped throughout the world. They were assembled on site – in Europe, North and South America, Asia and Africa.

Therefore, Thonet is considered a pioneer of industrial design, and the chair no. 14 – today 214 – is considered the most successful industrial product in the world: it established the starting point for the history of modern furniture.


In 1819, Michael Thonet (1796-1871) established a building and furniture workshop in Boppard on the River Rhine. It was the birth of our company. During the 1830s he experimented with veneer strips boiled in glue; after several years, he succeeded in inventing "solid bentwood furniture."

Prince Metternich, State Chancellor of the K.u.K. monarchy, liked his furniture and called him to Vienna in 1842. There, together with his sons, he opened a new company in 1849. In this country, Thonet played a decisive role in the furnishing of the Palais Lichtenstein and Palais Schwarzenberg, among others. In 1850, Anna Daum furnished her coffee house in Vienna with chair No. 4. Innovative production and distribution methods as well as a comprehensive program of chairs, tables, armchairs, sofas, wardrobes, etc. allowed the company to expand rapidly and brought it global recognition. Starting 1889, seven facilities in today's Czech Republic, Hungary, Russia, and Frankenberg (Germany) produced the furniture. Subsidiaries existed in all of the world's important cities.

The chair is considered the most important industrial product

By the year 1930 over 50 million of them had been produced. With its clear, reduced aesthetics, this classic has been finding a place in the most diverse environments for more than 150 years.

An anecdote tells us how the new Eiffel Tower restaurant in Paris was furnished with Thonet chairs. One chair fell from the first platform and a height of 57 meters to the ground and was not damaged! To date, the design, quality and durability give wings to Thonet furniture.


214 Michael Thonet
» Details


404 Stefan Diez
» Details

“For me, the issue of three-dimensionality is especially closely linked with the history of Thonet. This crazy idea of bending wood in such a way that it seems to have grown for a second time.”

The Thonet Principle

1 Idea
8 Parts