Bentwood and beyond – Thonet and modern furniture design at MAK in Vienna

18/12/2019 > 06/09/2020

Josef Hoffmann, Chaise longue, Model no. 670 “Sitting Machine”, Vienna, ca.1905 ©MAK, Georg Mayer

To commemorate Thonet’s 200th anniversary, the MAK is presenting a major exhibition on modern furniture, in which the signature bentwood furniture of the world famous company is placed in the context of contemporary technological, typological, aesthetic, and historical developments. Thonet’s bentwood chairs are compared with chairs made of tubular steel and plastic as well as with classic office chairs and avant-garde furniture experiments.   
In 1842, the German joiner Michael Thonet moved to Vienna to perfect the bentwood furniture he had developed and to found the largest furniture empire of the 19th century. With chair No. 14, produced from 1859, the company not only created one of the world’s best-selling pieces of furniture, but also an undisputed design classic. The exhibition at the MAK shows the central importance of the Thonet company for modern furniture design and, in addition to the company’s history, also tells about the stages in the development of bentwood technology, from artisan production to industrial series production.

Guest Curator: Wolfgang Thillmann
Curator: Sebastian Hackenschmidt, Curator, MAK Furniture and Woodwork Collection

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