Chair No. 14

Michael Thonet and Sons

Design: 1859 - 60
Production: 1865 to the present
Manufacturer: Gebrüder Thonet, Vienna
Size: 92.5 x 42 x 50; seat height 46.5 cms
Material: bent beechwood

Worldwide, "No. 14" is one of the most successful products in the history of industrial mass production. It also established the international reputation of the Thonet Company. By 1930 over 50 million chairs had already been sold. In 1930 the price was DM 8.50 and this was the most reasonably priced model within the Thonet line. Even today it is being produced in modified form. Starting in 1830, Michael Thonet began to experiment with shaping laminated wood. He boiled wood strips in glue and bent them into prepared iron molds. Thonet is recognized as the founder of industrial bentwood processing and in 1836 introduced the first chair made of laminated wood. Efficient methods of manufacturing, a reduction in the individual parts of a chair, and finally the development of its own distribution network via sales offices in all major cities around the globe enabled Thonet to develop into an international company. Laminated and molded wooden furniture sold in subtropical countries with high humidity led to a flood of complaints since the glue tended to dissolve. Because of this pressure, Michael Thonet developed a procedure of bending solid wood with steam, replacing the glued peg jointing with screws. Model No. 14 was the first product utilizing this new bentwood technique and, after about 1865, the entire fabrication was switched over. Thanks to the screwed connections, it was now possible to ship the chairs in their individual parts for final assembly at their destination. Thirty-six dismantled No. 14 chairs could be packed into a crate with a volume of only one cubic meter. Since the connections could be retightened as necessary, the lifespan of the chair was also enhanced as an added benefit. PD

Michael Thonet und Söhne

Thonet and Sons Sessel No 14