A history of the furniture industry
Since the birth of furniture design, people have sought to create shapes and contours that are aesthetic and serve a purpose. "Furniture design" strives to meet the requirements of purpose and person, while optimising use of currently available technologies.
However, increasing industrialisation and a shift in economic means effected fundamental changes in production techniques. Not only was it now possible to mass produce furniture cost effectively, it opened the door to new methods of processing available materials. A milestone in this process was the triumphant success of "bentwood". Master carpenter, Michael Thonet, developed a procedure of bending beechwood with steam and shaping them into chairs. Worldwide, "Chair No. 14" is one of the most successful products in the history of industrial mass production and over 50 million chairs have been sold to date.
After World War I, one of the most influential currents in modern furniture design was Bauhaus. Designers like Marcel Breuer or Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, as well as new materials like steel tubes, glass, plywood and aluminium, had a huge impact on the construction of contemporary furniture.
After World War II, the range of new materials was further expanded to include plastics, chrome, perspex, lacquer and injection moulding. It was against this backdrop that Charles and Ray Eames brought their iconic "Lounge Chair" to market - still highly sought-after to this day - and Harry Bertoia wowed design-oriented clientèle with his innovative "Side Chair", combining welded steel with an organic form to create a work of art.