Carpentry

The Thonet chair, the first industrial design furniture

Although now when we talk about industrial design we usually think of modern furniture, steel and straight lines, the origin of this discipline in furniture dates back to the mid-19th century, when it occurred the first industrial design furniture: the Thonet chair, also known as chair # 14, for the number it was in the first catalog in which it appeared.

Surely you have all recognized her instantly, because she has been part of our lives and those of our grandparents, great-grandparents and even great-great grandparents, both in houses and in bars and restaurants. In fact, It is a design that is still used a lot today, although sometimes it's rough metal replicas.

The original design was steamed curved wood, a technique that its creator, Michael Thonet, it took years to perfect. He began working with curved stratified wood since he opened his first workshop in Boppard on the Rhine in 1819, although his first designs did not arrive until 1930. In 1492 Prince Metternich, astonished by his talent, made him move to Vienna, where he was in charge of Furnish the Liechtenstein Palace, the Schwarzenberg Palace and the Daum Café.

However, his obsession with curved wood and industrial production made him continue working in the technique until he managed to bend the solid beech wood, with which his already famous chair No. 14 would be manufactured. In addition to this innovative system, Michael Thonet introduced industrial standardization for chair manufacturing, using for the first time the division of labor in the manufacture of furniture.

As if all this were not enough, the chair is built with only six pieces of steam curved wood, ten screws and two nuts, and can be manufactured by unskilled workers. As a climax, can be transported disassembled to occupy less space - who does not sound like this - and ride the destination.

Its economic price made it popular quickly, not in vain is also known as the bistro chair or “Viennese coffee”, for the amount of cafes and bars that adopted it, and for which the design was intended. It was also the favorite chair of the famous architect Le Corbusier, with which he furnished his houses, until he met and partnered with the designer Charlotte Perriand.

Since then, and until today, 60 million units of this chair have been sold, not counting the innumerable replicas, both in wood and metal. As a curiosity, the original seat was made of a grid so that, in the event that a liquid spilled on the chair - something usual in a cafe -, it would fall to the floor and not stay in the seat, staining who then I will sit on it.

Among all the replicas and versions that I have found out there, what it takes most now is paint the brightly colored chairs. You can buy them already painted or do it yourself as Dayka has done, to give a modern touch to the Thonet chair, the first industrial design furniture design.

The most observant, you will have noticed that not all the chairs in the pictures are the same. Some have small lateral reinforcements, and in others, instead of a hoop that joins the four legs, there is a curved piece that joins the back with the front. The original design is what we see in black and white, the rest are either replicas, or improvements introduced afterwards; I have not got information about it.

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