Rocking Chair, Model #1
On View: Special Exhibition Gallery, 4th Floor
Michael Thonet (1796-1871)
Bentwood furniture, perhaps the most ubiquitous type of furniture worldwide, is indebted to the nineteenth-century innovations of Michael Thonet. Although the process—which involves steaming wood and bending it into curved shapes—had been used since ancient times to manufacture not only furniture but also wheels, barrels, and boat hulls, Thonet’s application of it in the 1830s was revolutionary. Thonet was the first designer to fuse the means of production and design to create superior products: his chairs were stronger, lighter, and less expensive than traditionally made ones. He was also a master of marketing, selling his designs through catalogues and an international chain of stores. He offered the same piece of furniture in different colors, and he produced pieces for adults, children, and even dolls (as seen here) to capture as much of the consumer market as possible.
Copper beech, leather
Designed ca. 1860, manufactured ca. 1900
39 1/4 x 22 1/2 x 45 in. (99.7 x 57.2 x 114.3 cm) (show scale)
Caroline A.L. Pratt Fund
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Michael Thonet (1796-1871). Rocking Chair, Model #1, Designed ca. 1860, manufactured ca. 1900. Copper beech, leather, 39 1/4 x 22 1/2 x 45 in. (99.7 x 57.2 x 114.3 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Caroline A.L. Pratt Fund, 69.79.1. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 69.79.1_threequarter_PS6.jpg)
3/4 front, 69.79.1_threequarter_PS6.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2011
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