In order to keep our warehouse stocked with café furniture that people actually want to buy we regularly take a look at what are the best selling products. Surprisingly, the No. 18 Bentwood Cabaret chair has been one of our best selling items throughout September. Bentwood chairs are as popular today as they were when they were first designed so we thought they deserved to have a short blog devoted to them.
Bentwood chairs are iconic pieces of furniture and most people even if they don’t know their classics are likely to recognise the humble Bentwood. The man behind the design of the Bentwood chair is one Michael Thonet who was born in 1796 and was the son of a master tanner. Having completed an apprenticeship in a carpentry Thonet in 1819 set himself started up a business an an independent cabinet maker.
During the 1830’s he began to experiment with making furniture out of bent and glued slats of wood but it wasn’t until 1851 that he received a bronze medal at the World’s Fair in London for his Vienna bentwood chairs. These were made from an innovative procedure which involved bending the wood using steam to create the flowing curves that bentwood chairs are famous for. This was to prove the international breakthrough that he had been working tirelessly for.
The Thonet No. 18 bentwood chair is also referred to as the Vienna chair and was a simple design made from just one piece of wood which formed the chair back and legs, whilst separate front legs and a seat were attached to this.
It’s fair to say that Thonet was a designer whose vision took furniture design into the future. He patented the process of bending thin strips of local beech into what were fashionable curves of the time. The steam bent timber which was incredibly strong meant that less timber was used in the manufacture of the chairs and they were considerably lighter in weight. All of this occurred at a time when it took three months and two men to build a chair which was so heavy that they both had to lift it. Thonet’s simplistic style could be made by unskilled labour and shipped flat, consisting of just 8 elements which were held together with 10 screws. This saved on labour, materials and shipping costs. Although steam was a very unnatural method of bending wood, it is the method that is used today in much modern furniture and something which Ikea were quick to pick up on!
Our No. 18 Bentwood cabaret chair is based on the original Thonet design which became popular in cafés and homes and was definitely an affordable chair for the masses. It’s a perfect classic which is so simple and yet never fails to look stylish and elegant. Why not visit our showroom in Brisbane to see our No. 18 Bentwood chairs for themselves or visit our online store where we have a plethora of different styles of café furniture to suit all tastes and budgets.