Michael Thonet - 19th Century Furniture Maker and Designer

Of Belgian descent, Michael Thonet was the furniture designer known to creatively use the systems of mass production.

The history of contemporary furniture design and production will be incomplete without mention of this great furniture designer whose name has thus been associated with the growth of modern furniture since the 19th century.

Born in Germany in 1796, Thonet was the inventor of chairs bent into continuous structural shapes.

The process of production was called 'bentwood furniture production', and it involved a process whereby beech wood was softened under a high pressure of steam and then bent into beautiful streamlined chairs.

Michael Thonet developed systems which also included stacking layers of wood veneer, bending them with steam, and then shaping them in heated moulds to form exotic chair designs which are still very relevant in today's furniture styles.

And now in the 21st century, all bent wood and plywood furniture are manufactured based on the same production techniques employed by the 19th century furniture manufacturers.