Nearly two centuries after Michael Thonet established his studio in Germany, the master has arrived stateside. The long-deferred debut comes courtesy of M2L, recently named a distributor for Gebrüder T 1819, the company now headed by Thonet's fifth-generation descendants. Of course, his reputation precedes him. Who doesn't recognize the Vienna coffeehouse chair?
Officially dubbed 214, it's still produced in solid beech, using Thonet's revolutionary bentwood process from 1859. The new version, though, offers an especially contemporary - and literal - twist on one of it's legs. The line also includes Dutch architect Mart Stam's S33. which introduced tubular steel into the mix when the cantilevered chair, the first, appeared in 1926. Three more cantilevers are likewise framed in tubular steel: Ludwig Mies van der Rohe's S533 (1927) and Marcel Breuer's S32 (1929) incorporate wicker, while the molded beech-plywood seat of Stam's S43 (1931) can be stained or lacquered in 11 colors.
Classics to-be are available as well, such as Naoto Fukasawa's 130 in oak and beech and Stefan Diez's 405, which pays homage to Gebrüder's bentwood heritage with a molded beech-plywood backrest that gently flexs with the sitter. M2L, 800-319-8222; m2l.com.