Dezeen’s A-Zdvent calendar: Thonet No 14 Chair

A second, nonrenewable 13-year patent “for manufacturing chairs and table legs of bent wood, the curvature of which is effected through the agency of steam or boiling liquids” was given in 1856. Its seat is woven from raffia to create a porous surface that would allow spilt liquid to drain through. Austrian Prince Metternich invited him to Vienna and urged him to relocate there after seeing his work at the Koblenz fair in 1841. The technique for bending solid wood that Thonet developed in the 1950s enabled the design to become the first industrial product to be mass produced at a low cost. Also known as the bistro chair and 214, the design is formed from six pieces of beechwood that are heated with steam, pressed into curved cast-iron moulds and then dried in the desired shape. A staple in cafes around the world, Thonet’s steam-bent No 14 chair is T in the alphabetical list of iconic seats we’re publishing each day until Christmas. Design journalist Alice Rawsthorn wrote that it “is thought to have seated more people than any other chair in history”. The No 14 chair became the most popular of Thonet’s designs and received a gold medal when it was shown at the 1867 World Exposition in Paris. Catch up with the list so far » A year later, an Austrian court granted Thonet the right “to bend any type of wood, even the most brittle, into the desired forms and curves by chemical and mechanical means”. Dezeen is publishing an A to Z of   iconic chairs to count down the days until Christmas. The company established by German designer Michael Thonet in 1819 has sold millions of his most-famous chair since it was introduced in 1859. The pieces of 36 disassembled No 14s and the screws needed to build them could be packed into a box measuring one cubic metre and shipped internationally, marking the beginnings of flat-pack furniture.

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