Specialist On The Contract, Designer & Garden Metal Furniture
The No 18 Cabaret (Bentwood) Chair – A Brief But Interesting History
When it comes to iconic cafe chairs they probably didn’t come much more popular than the No. 18 Bentwood chair. Originally invented in 1870 by Michael Thonet it remained one of the most fashionable cafe chairs for over 80 years. Gracing worldwide café’s from Venezuela to Vienna its simplistic splendour made it the ‘must have’ chair of choice for every establishment. It was immortalised in the 1972 film Cabaret when Star Liza Minelli was provocatively dancing around one in her now famous ‘Mein Herr’ routine. So why did the No. 18 Cabaret (Bentwood) chair become so much of a success?
In essence the factor that made it so popular was one born out of frugality. Originally Thonet wanted to make a chair for the masses – one that was cheap to manufacture and cheap to buy. A a result the No. 18 Bentwood chair was born. Consisting of just 6 pieces of wood which were bent and held in place with hardened resin, it was surprisingly robust. In addition it was also very quick to produce. As a result it was the ideal affordable, lightweight, but durable chair for café’s, bars, and restaurants to use. As a result hundreds of thousands were made and they were shipped all over the world, many of which found their way into popular cabaret venues of Paris, hence the name.
Because the Cabaret chair was cheap to produce it became an early disposable object. It was thought more cost effective to throw it away and buy a new one, rather than to repair the old one. The trouble is that after two world wars Austria, where the chair was originally manufactured, was on its knees. A a result it could no longer keep manufacturing the chairs in such large quantities. The decreased supply, coupled with the fact that the fashion of the day was modernist and decorative, meant that the writing was on the wall and by the 1960’s the Cabaret chair was all but forgotten. That is until the turn of the 21st?century…
Here at CDG furniture. we have a variety of Bentwood chairs at great value for money prices.