Flickr Widget

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Thonet...Yes, you heard me. I said TAWN-at.

Thonet is considered a pioneer of furniture design throughout the world. The company was established in 1819 by Michael Thonet to produce his own designs. In 1830 he began to experiment with bending steamed wood to create furniture, and by 1855 Gebruder Thonet received a patent for the bentwood process. Within a short period of time, the company became a major furniture manufacturer with a global distribution network.

In the 1930's a major expansion took place with the addition of tubular steel furniture from famous Bauhaus designers such as Mart Stam, Marcel Breuer and Mies van der Rohe. In the 1950s, designers such as Jindrich Halabala, Eero Saarinen and Joe Atkinson designed pieces for the company.

Today, in addition to manufacturing many of the tubular steel and bentwood classics, Thonet continues to introduce products by renowned contemporary architects and designers. The family enterprise is managed by the fifth generation of Thonets: Claus, Peter and Philipp. Corporate headquarters and the production facility is in Frankenberg, Germany.

An interesting aside: In researching this post, I found that I, along with many other people, have been mistaking the German name for French and, as a result, have been mispronouncing the name of the company. As a follow-up to a thread on Apartment Therapy, a reader named Harley emailed the Thonet company and received a response from family member Anke Thonet, who said the correct pronunciation rhymes with LAWN-at and has a silent h, giving the beginning and ending t a hard sound. So tonight I’ll stand in front of the mirror before I go to bed repeating “TAWN-at, TAWN-at, TAWN-at” till I break the habit of saying "Tho-NAY." (I’d like you to think I’m so suave and sophisticated that I never mispronounce a designer’s name, but, alas, that’s not the case. Why doesn’t someone compile a pronunciation guide???)

From, and

Bentwood lounge chairs

Desk by Pierre Paulin for Thonet

Cantilever lounge chairs

Bentwood settee

Plywood armchair


Swivel chairs

Webbed lounge chair

Upholstered side chair

My asymmetrical bentwood TAWN-at  footstool

Original atomic print upholstery in charcoal grey, light gray, green and turquoise


  1. I'll settle for a settee or two with a couple of atomic footstools in between. Thanks for the correct pronunciation of Thonets.

  2. At the risk of sounding like a real hayseed from Texas, I just emailed the design departments of several universities and asked if anyone knew of a comprehensive list of pronunciations of designers' names. If I get one, I'll post it. Of course, with this Texas accent of mine, I'll still sound like I'm saying some of them wrong. :)

  3. By the way, I have the footstool listed for sale on Lushpad, and for anyone who says they saw it first here, I'll knock off 25%.

  4. Thanks for this post. I love the Highback Lounge Chair. Can't wait to hear the other pronunciations. Let us know! Tawn at!