German furniture maker. Introduced the concept of bent wood in furniture. Started experimenting with bending wood using steam in 1830, first with pieces of thin board. Later, he discovered a general technique to bend even large pieces of solid oak. His work in furniture took off after he moved to Vienna on invitation from Richard Metternich, and the ruler of Austria-Hungary took an interest in the simple, yet elegant furniture. Thus Thonet got access to deliver to the noblesse of old Vienna, and he became the official merchant of the court.
In 1849 Michael Thonet got his first major assignment, to decorate Vienna's Café Daum. In 1851 the furniture was exhibited at the first World's Fair at Crystal Palace, London. The public's interest was enormous and international success was soon to be established. After this, Thonet's furniture became, and still remains, the definitive decoration of European continental cafés.
Thonet Sr. formed the company Gebrüder Thonet in 1853 with his 5 sons.
Born July 2, 1796 in Germany, died March 3, 1871 in Vienna