THONET 404 Family
Stefan Diez Thursday 13 Feb 2014

More than 180 years ago Michael Thonet started to make chairs and furniture according to his patented process by bending wood. This makes his company the world’s oldest industrial furniture manufacturer.
Its products are indissolubly linked to the coffee-house style of the 19th century and the Bauhaus period.

It was less a question of whether than how the designs would relate the bentwood tradition of the Thonet family. As it is no longer economical today to bend wood in Germany, for the manufacture of the chairs they resorted to the more modern but generic moulded plywood process. It is their main contribution to develop an individual version of the plywood process that was a good fit for Thonet. The most important design element is the structural knot beneath the seat.

The four legs and the supports of the backrest meet there and are set into the surface of the seat. A three-dimensional layer structure of the seat makes this possible: the thickness of the seat is a few millimetres at the edges but several centimetres in the middle. Thanks to this trick it is possible to give the chair lines that seem to have been drawn with only a few strokes, like the original Thonet chairs.