That Iconic Café Chair is Pronounced Toenette Not Thonay
Here at Steelyard, we’re all about helping you avoid those design cognoscenti faux pas. (Cognoscenti being a personal favorite obscure term meaning the “in the know“ crowd. Faux pas…well we all know that one.)
Michael Thonet, the pioneer of bentwood chairs, was German-Austrian, not French (who knew?) so you need to hit those consonants hard if you want to toss his name or furniture around in conversation. His famous Coffee Shop Chair #14 first caught on in Viennese cafés in the 1860’s, not in the Toulouse-Lautrec-era as Parisian bistros and clubs as we had originally assumed (although they were there, too).
Today, most of us prefer the cross-backed iteration of Thonet’s iconic bentwood designs, or an adaptation like Essentials For Living’s Paris Dining Chair below. The more evenly-distributed stress points tend to make them sturdier and more comfortable to sit in than the original. There’s a version for every price point!