Inside Out (Australia)

Thonet low stool by Michael Thonet


The form: A stool with four turned legs and a circular plywood seat, with four steam-bent bracing components. What makes it special: Apart from utilising Michael Thonet’s bentwood technique developed in the mid-19th century in Austria, this stool – like its chair counterpar­t, the A14 ‘Vienna Café’ chair – was truly egalitaria­n. Made in vast numbers, it has benefitted from a correspond­ingly affordable price. Like all of Thonet’s designs, the stool’s success relies on simplicity and functional­ity, with a hint of the decorative delivered by the method’s ability to provide swooping curves. Steam-bending alters the wood’s fibres, making the beech timber rods elastic and bendable. While still in the moulds, the steam moisture evaporates and the wood becomes more rigid and retains its new shape. The process was a revelation when Thonet developed it, although he failed in his bid to patent it. The stool has been ubiquitous in French cafes since the early 20th century and has become a global icon, equally at home in sharp architectu­ral environmen­ts or eclectic domestic spaces. It is superbly versatile, working as an occasional table, extra seat or bedside table, and comes in finishes including light or dark oak-coloured beech and a variety of lacquered colours. Expect to pay: The Thonet low stool is available in dark oak from $195. Custom lacquer colours and stains are available at extra cost. Buy at: Thonet Australia,

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