Cabinetmaker Michael Thonet revolutionized the furniture industry in 1859, when he devised a way to bend wood into curved shapes using hot steam. The breakthrough enabled him to create an entirely new chair design: elegant yet economical, lightweight but durable, and a complete departure from the solid carved furniture of the past. Thonet's bentwood chair became one of the best-selling, most influential chairs ever made. Still today, designers specify it to make a statement without saying a word.
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