Defined by its dependable bentwood construction and simple organic form, the graceful, lightweight and surprisingly strong Era Collection (1859) has been in continuous production for more than 150 years. By making the chair back and rear legs from a single piece of curved wood, designer Michael Thonet, who perfected the bentwood process for chair-making, eliminated the need for expensive and time-consuming hand-carved joints. Swiss architect Le Corbusier used the Era Chair in his buildings, stating, “This chair, whose millions of representatives are used on the Continent and in the two Americas, possesses nobility.” Other fans of this iconic form included Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, both of whom featured this chair in their paintings. As with any natural material, slight variations in the texture and color of the wood are to be expected and are not defects. Made in the Czech Republic at a factory that’s been making chairs for more than a century.
With all the talk about form and function, we sometimes overlook the importance of the advances in materials technology in the 20th century. Without doubt, the development of bent and laminated wood veneers was one of those significant innovations, making it possible to construct furniture using fewer pieces and allowing designers to obtain greater visual unity and fluidity. One can hardly imagine the work of Alvar Aalto or Charles and Ray Eames without this technology.
Michael Thonet is one of the most important innovators in bent wood furniture making. Thonet patented a process of bending under heat several layers of wood veneer glued together and laminated.and used the new material to create curved back-rails and legs on chairs, contoured headboards for beds and scrolled arms for sofas. Read more >