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9 Amazing Facts About Bentwood Chairs and Bar Stools

Did you know that the ever-popular bentwood chair and bar stool design is made using one of the oldest processes of furniture manufacturing? Here are some interesting facts about bentwood furniture that you may not know.

  • Bentwood first appeared on English chairs with legs bent like sabers.
  • The first bentwood factory was established in 1861 by Michael Thonet.
  • With the centuries-old knowledge that wood becomes flexible when exposed to moisture and heat, Thonet developed his signature bentwood process to create sturdy and beautiful furniture.
  • The backrest (or hairpin area) of the chairs are handmade using a mold.
  • The seat bending also utilizes the steam technique, however modern technologies have automated the process.
  • With its timeless aesthetic, Thonet’s notorious Chair No. 14 (also known as the Vienna or Qitay chair) has been continuously produced for more than 150 years!
  • To date, 80 million Qitay chairs have been made; 50 million before the 1930s.
  • Thonet brought attention and popularity to the bentwood process with a fabulous stunt at the World Exhibition in Paris. He threw his Chair No. 14 (the Qitay chair) from the top of the Eiffel Tower, and was awarded a gold medal!
  • This famous coffee shop chair inspired many other designers to copy the shape using other materials that were easier to bend, such as metal pipes. These designers included none other than Le Corbusier, Marcel Breuer, Mart Stamm and Miese van der Rohe.
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