The history of Thonet's production is a testament to innovation in line with the industry's progress. Around 1830-1835, Michael Thonet (1796-1871) of German nationality, developed a process for bending wood. He obtained an imperial privilege in 1842, opened a shop in Vienna in 1852, established his company in 1853 and filed a patent of exclusivity in 1856. His models are perfect examples of the use, in the design of a practical furniture , shapes produced by industry alone: the consumer chair No. 14, whose design recalls Biedermeier era seats, consists of only six pieces, the backrest and rear legs in one piece, the interior the backrest, the seat, the two front feet and a ring stabilizing the four feet.
This model offers the best conditions for mass production and export. A crate of about one cubic meter contains thirty-six disassembled chairs, and the models are assembled at the place of delivery. Thonet's idea, to ensure mass production and reduce cost, is the interchangeability of parts, with a wide variety of models. Thonet exhibited in London, in 1851, a range of seats of the same model, chair, armchair, bench. As early as 1859, a poster was used as the first illustrated sales catalog, presenting twenty-six models, in various shades of colors. The pieces are numbered, simplifying the work of the buyer.
Michael Thonet participated, between 1841 and 1900, in fifty-five exhibitions, including thirteen Universal Exhibitions. It offers sales catalogs in several languages. Devoid of any ornament, the Thonet furniture, admitted in public places, fail to penetrate the bourgeois home. In the 1880s, the manufacturer was forced to introduce into his production the Makart style, which fills the bourgeois taste.