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Timeless beauty – why Thonet’s cantilever chair is as popular as ever

Mart Stam's idea to produce cantilever chairs that do without four legs is now considered a milestone in modern design history. Almost a century after it was first designed, the Thonet cantilever chair is still in fashion today.

It's rare for a manufacturer to launch two design icons. Thonet did so with the «Wiener Kaffeehaus-Stuhl Nr. 14», created by Michael Thonet in 1859, and with the cantilever chair «S 33», designed by Mart Stam in 1929. Both are considered design classics today – and for a good reason. Both stand for innovation: The coffee house chair was the first chair to be made with a new technique – the bending of solid wood with steam. This was a breakthrough in woodwork and paved the way for the creation of cantilever chairs.

Thonet proved to be a manufacturer that combines technical and aesthetic expertise – a «perfect match» for the Bauhaus designer Mart Stam. In the 1930s, he developed the counterpart made of steel using a sophisticated design principle. The steel cantilever chairs were displayed for the first time in 1927 in the Weissenhof Estate in Stuttgart. Together with other designers from the Dessau Bauhaus, such as Marcel Breuer, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Le Corbusier, an entire steel furniture collection for Thonet was created shortly afterwards.

Four reasons why these chairs are an absolute must-have:

They’re timeless. With their minimalistic shape, cantilever chairs fit into a many different private or public spaces. They're a simple and elegant finishing touch to restaurants, conference rooms, waiting rooms or a home.

Cantilever chairs look good in a dining room or a lecture hall. Pictures: Thonet

They adjust to your needs. Thonet offers versions with or without armrest as well as an almost limitless range of materials, allowing for an individual and special touch for each piece.

They’re sustainable: Thanks to first-class workmanship, cantilever chairs are almost indestructible. Made of robust steel and low-maintenance leather or synthetic fabrics, these chairs are sure to last for many years.

They give you room to move. When designing the «S 33», Mart Stam experimented so long until he found a way to build a suspension into the seat and go without the four legs. Nothing can keep you from rocking along with your favourite tune in this chair.

Today’s collection includes matching tables and shelves. Picture: Thonet

S 33
CHF 1380.–get 10% off with a voucher code
Thonet S 33


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Know other must-haves for design lovers? Let me know by commenting below this article and follow me if you’d like to know about my next article. Check out all Thonet classics.

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Pia Seidel

  • Teamleader Loki
I'm an aesthetics cheerleader who shakes her pom-poms for anthying that is art, design or fashion. When I’m travelling, I love to dive into the magic of new places and seek out the latest trends on the streets or at trade fairs. On a more daily basis, I enjoy decorating my home and listening to podcasts. For instant relaxation, I jog along the beautiful river Limmat – water is my element.

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