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Object Timeline

-0001

1969

  • We acquired this object.

2004

2015

2020

  • You found it!

No. 8 Bench, mid-19th century

This is a Bench. It was manufactured by Gebrüder (Brothers) Thonet. It is dated mid-19th century and we acquired it in 1969. Its medium is bent beech wood, caning. It is a part of the Product Design and Decorative Arts department.

In 1853, Viennese cabinetmaker Michael Thonet founded Thonet Brothers (named for his five sons), and directed the firm until his death in 1871. In that time, Thonet created some of the most successful chair designs of the last two centuries. In the 1830s, he experimented with using heat and steam to bend sheets of laminated wood and was mass-producing chairs by 1849. Bending solid wood, whose outer fibers stretched to the point of breaking, proved more difficult, but he perfected the process by 1859. He clamped sheets of steel to the outside edge of a piece of straight wood, steamed it and bent it, then dried it in a heated room with the metal still attached. The steel created a uniform compression, preventing the fibers from stretching. Beechwood, easily accessible and inexpensive, was ideal for its straight fibers and few knots. Although his chairs are more well-known today, Bench No. 8 shows the variety Thonet achieved by taking additional steps to bend the wood in multiple directions. In each piece, the form itself is the decoration, a quality that later inspired early twentieth-century modernists.

It is credited Museum purchase through gift of American Institute of Interior Designers.

  • Bubbles Chaise Longue, ca. 1988
  • layered and bent corrugated cardboard.
  • Museum purchase from the Members' Acquisitions Fund of Cooper-Hewitt,....
  • 2012-3-1

Its dimensions are

H x W x D: 100 x 147.3 x 54 cm (39 3/8 x 58 x 21 1/4 in.)

Cite this object as

No. 8 Bench, mid-19th century; Manufactured by Gebrüder (Brothers) Thonet (Austria); Austria; bent beech wood, caning; H x W x D: 100 x 147.3 x 54 cm (39 3/8 x 58 x 21 1/4 in.); Museum purchase through gift of American Institute of Interior Designers; 1969-103-1

This object was previously on display as a part of the exhibition Faster, Cheaper, Newer, More: The Revolutions of 1848.

This image is in the public domain (free of copyright restrictions). You can copy, modify, and distribute this work without contacting the Smithsonian. For more information, visit the Smithsonian’s Terms of Use page.

If you would like to cite this object in a Wikipedia article please use the following template:

<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url=https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18467801/ |title=No. 8 Bench, mid-19th century |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=1 June 2020 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>