Era chair: timeless design innovation

anna volpicelliComment

When German craftsman and cabinetmaker Michael Thonet designed the Era chair in 1859, he unknowingly initiated the modern furniture movement. The bending solid wood, known as the bentwood process, became one of the most impactful innovations in the design industry and initiated the serial furniture design process.

Considered an icon, the Era is one of the most reproduced furniture pieces in the world. Also known as the bistro chair, it has been used for over 150 years to furnish the interiors of cafes and restaurants all over Europe and the United States. This pioneered masterpiece was awarded a gold medal at the 1867 World Exposition in Paris for its unique design.

Thonet’s chair was also widely used by the French Modernist Architect Le Corbustier during the1920s. Besides prominent architects, Thonet’s chair was also well received by the likes of notable French painters. The famous portrait of Pierre-Auguste Renoir, depicted the chair and Henri de Toulose Lautrec introduced it in his “At the Moulin Rouge” painting as well. Today the chair can be seen in countless mid-century modern style design projects.