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Charming Curves of Wood and Plywood: Bellavista Collection Makes the Most of Wood Bending

When hearing ‘a chair’, different people think of different pieces. Some will remember a classic-looking wooden one, with or without seat upholstery. Many will visualize something high-tech, with a structure made of metal tubes… Nobody has carried out such a poll yet, but it’s extremely likely that the so-called Vienna chair would definitely be among the favorites.

This bentwood chair has long been an iconic furniture piece. Its most popular model, unpretentiously named No. 14, became known as the ‘chair of chairs’ shortly after it appeared at the market in 1859. What’s more, it remained extremely popular for more than a century and still enjoys a good demand, in spite of being perceived as somehow vintage.

If you also enjoy the lovely curves of this masterpiece of furniture, let’s pay tribute to the person who started producing these very special bentwood chairs long ago.

From a Humble Artisan to the King of Chairs

His name was Michael Thonet. He was born in Germany, died in Austria, and became the king of bentwood furniture in between.

He began as a humble artisan in 1819, when he set up a workshop that specialized in parquetry. In 1830 Thonet began his experiments with cabinetmaking techniques, particularly, wood and plywood bending.

It took him about two decades to bring them to perfection and work out the designs for the furniture pieces that would be optimal for mass production.

For example, Thonet developed the technology that allowed to make complete chairs out of four or five steam-bent veneers, glued together. These chairs were lightweight, curvilinear, and cheap to manufacture. They were among the most successful examples of mass-produced furniture at that time. Showcased at the Great Exhibition of 1851 in London, these chairs grabbed plenty of attention and for the rest of the century, they were bestsellers both throughout Europe and in the United States.

But the greatest triumph Michael Thonet achieved in 1859 when his ‘the chair of chairs’ – model No. 14 – came into existence.

What’s special about No. 14?

It was the first furniture piece that was not only good-looking but also extremely easy and cheap to manufacture. This nice and inexpensive chair won the market instantly.

Its design was ideal for mass production. The number of parts in No. No. 14 was reduced to the absolute minimum – there were only six of them. These parts were assembled with screws, without any glue, which simplified the production of those chairs even further.

What is more, as many as thirty-six disassembled chairs No. 14 could be packed in a cubic box with sides of just 1 meter. 

All in all, No. 14 turned out to be a dream of a mass-produced chair: easy to make, assemble, and deliver. And it could be said that this remarkable chair owes much of its success to technology.

Well, Michael Thonet didn’t invent the wood bending technology itself – like Henry Ford didn’t invent the automobile. Instead, he (quite like Henry Ford) revolutionized the process of production, making the end product affordable to virtually millions of people.

Bentwood furniture is still loved all over the world and is lightweight yet graceful, and strong. That is why, owners of hotels, pubs, clubs, cafes, and restaurants often choose it. And so do lots of people, when furnishing their homes.

Bellavista Collection Makes the Most of It

High-end furniture makers like Bellavista Collection, well-known for their Italian luxury furniture, widely bend both solid wood and plywood when creating their pieces. No wonder: this technique gives wonderful opportunities to designers.

Just look at a few items with details made of curved wood or plywood. All of them were created by Attilio Zanni, Bellavista Collection’s co-founder, and a brilliant designer.

What about the SHANGHAI armchair with the curved wooden detail that forms both its armrests and back? Named after a large city in China, Shanghai leaves a strong impression of Oriental splendor. This piece belongs to a very special 2018 collection named Dulcechina. Inspired by the irresistible charm of the Orient, this group of 12 pieces still are so popular that they occupy a separate section in Bellavista’s online catalog.

The armchair, called MAFALDA, created in 2017, looks gorgeous indeed. The accent in its design was made on the lovely rounded shape of its structure and the natural beauty of the wood it is veneered in. As many as nine wood options are available, including rosewood, ebony, and grey sukupira.

One more armchair and the sofa, sharing the same name – ‘GRACE WOOD’, also share certain traits in their design: both have lovely enveloping backs. Both look really graceful. So do MADLEINE WOOD sofa, NISHA wood bed, and ANGELINA chair.

The rounded shapes of their details make them look easy on the eye.

When it comes to technologies of wood and plywood bending, Bellavista Collection’s workshops serve as a great example of how centuries-old techniques and know-how could be combined with last-gen CNC machines. Handicraft isn’t all about doing everything manually. The most back-breaking steps in production could be done using powerful machines, while artisans can do their work, making the most of their skill and experience.

The end result is predictably superb: Italian luxury furniture from the Bellavista Collection brand is always beautiful and of top quality. Brilliant designs from Attilio Zanni ensure that these pieces will never look old-fashioned because the Bellavista style has little to do with trends that come and go. The lovely rounded shapes of Bellavista’s armchairs and sofas will always please your eye, and the impeccable craftsmanship the brand is known for guarantees that any piece you purchase here will serve you for decades to come.

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