That Iconic Café Chair is Pronounced Toenette Not Thonay

BFM Seating  Sofia Chairs

BFM Seating Sofia Chairs


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).

At the Moulin Rouge  by Henri De Toulouse-Lautrec

At the Moulin Rouge by Henri De Toulouse-Lautrec


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!

Sandy HughesComment