Gebrüder Thonet

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Cradle by Gebrüder Thonet (ca. 1870)

Gebrüder Thonet (today Thonet GmbH) or the Thonet Brothers was a European furniture manufacturer. It was founded by Michael Thonet in Vienna by transferring the company “Thonet” to his sons under the new name “Gebrüder Thonet” in 1853. In 1856 the brothers expanded with a furniture factory in Koritchan (Moravia) and in the next years, five more Eastern European production sites were established in Bystritz (1862), Nagy-Ugrócz (1866), Wsetin (1867), Hallenkau(1867) and Nowo-Radomsk(1880).[1]

Gebrüder Thonet were particularly known for their manufacture of bentwood furniture, for which they had developed the first industrial-scale production processes. These replaced previous individual craft skills with an investment in machinery that allowed any worker to produce accurate and repeatable bent components. Although steam bending was long established for pieces such as the Windsor chair, these older pieces had used the bending of a raw billet that would then be shaped to size afterwards. Thonet's more precise process allowed timber to be machined with a surface finish as raw stock (usually as thick circular dowel), steam bent to shape, then used as a component almost immediately, without further machining other than to trim the ends.

Their best known piece was the No. 14 chair, the iconic chair of Parisian cafes.

The company Gebrüder Thonet merged with Mundus AG in 1921 in order to become the world’s largest furniture manufacturer. The Buyback of the shares in the Thonet Mundus AG by the Thonet family followed in 1938.[2]

In the aftermath of World War II, Thonet lost all of its production facilities in the Eastern European states through expropriation, and the sales office at Viennas Stephansplatz had been destroyed during the war. In the years 1945-1953, Georg Thonet, the great grandson of company founder, Michael Thonet, rebuilt the completely destroyed facilities in Frankenberg, Hesse in the north of Hesse, where Thonet GmbH’s head office and production facilities remain until today. Economic success returned quickly and the company sought the cooperation of outstanding designers. The list of designers who have worked with Thonet over the past 60 years is long and filled with top caliber names: Egon Eiermann, Verner Panton, Eddie Harlis, Hanno von Gustedt, Rudolf Glatzel, Pierre Paulin, Gerd Lange, Hartmut Lohmeyer, Ulrich Böhme and Wulf Schneider, Alfredo Häberli, Christophe Marchand, Lord Norman Foster, Delphin Design, Glen Oliver Löw, James Irvine, Piero Lissoni, Stefan Diez, Lievore Altherr Molina, Lepper Schmidt Sommerlade, Hadi Teherani, Läufer + Keichel. Moreover the company’s own Thonet Design Team regularly adds new designs to Thonet’s versatile portfolio.[3]

In 1976 Gebrüder Thonet was divided into a German (Gebrüder Thonet) and an Austrian company (Thonet Vienna). The two companies are totally independent of each other.[4]

Thonet Today[edit]

In 2006 Gebrüder Thonet becomes Thonet GmbH. Today, Thorsten Muck runs the company with its head offices and production facilities in Frankenberg/Eder (Germany). Michael Thonet’s direct descendants in the fifth and sixth generation remain involved in the company’s business as associates and sales partners. The collection still comprises famous bentwood furniture, tubular steel classics from the Bauhaus era, and current designs by famous contemporary architects and designers.[5]


  • Renzi/Thillmann, sedie a dondolo Thonet - Thonet rocking chairs, Silvana Editoriale, Milano 2006, ISBN 978-88-366-0671-9
  • Lara, Natascha/Thillmann, Wolfgang, Bugholzmöbel in Südamerika – Bentwood furniture in South America – Muebles de madera curvada, La Paz 2008
  • Thillmann, Wolfgang/ Willscheid, Bernd, MöbelDesign - Roentgen, Thonet und die Moderne, Roentgen Museum Neuwied, Neuwied 2011, ISBN 978-3-9809797-9-5
  • Official Website of Thonet GmbH:
  • Basic press portfolio of Thonet GmbH [6]


External links[edit]