Gebrüder Thonet Vienna GmbH (GTV) is part of a great European history that merges tradition and innovation, renewing its style lines through continuous project research. Thonet is a protagonist in the critical passage from craftsmanship to industry, thanks to an approach which anticipates modern design and has contributed to the definition of the visual grammar of contemporaneousness.
Invited by Metternich to develop his own patent in Austria, Michael Thonet left Germany in 1842 and settled in Vienna, where he founded the “Gebrüder Thonet” company in 1853, involving his five children in the company. In the capital of the Habsburg Empire, Michael Thonet moved from the use of laminated glued wood to that of steam bent wooden rods, an industrial chemical and mechanical process which permitted the production of wood furniture in large quantities. He immediately supported this with a distribution and sales network that was capable of penetrating any market.
In this period, representative products such as the “N. 1” chair, designed for the famous Schwarzenberg Palace in Vienna and gaining fame as ‘typically’ Thonet, were born. Countless other models derived from it, culminating in chair N. 14, of which more than 50 million pieces were produced between 1859 and 1930. Aesthetic and manufacturing modernism is also expressed in the global positioning of the product: the high technological and production standards enabled the company to create extremely versatile furniture, combining a refined style with broad distribution.
In 1865 Gebrüder Thonet had 22 single-brand company stores throughout the world, with over 6,000 employees. In 1911, the company catalog contained 980 different products and at the end of the Second World War independent production units in various countries were created. In Austria, the home market of Gebrüder Thonet, the business was rebuilt by descendants of Michael Thonet, including his great-grandson Fritz Jakob Thonet as well as Fritz Jakob’s children Evamarie Thonet and Richard Thonet. After the war, they had to start from scratch, with little more than their experience and passion for furniture. They recommenced their business in one of Gebrüder Thonet’s former warehouses in Vienna. From 1948 on they rented a production site in Rohrau, Steiermark, before they finally built their own production site in Friedberg in 1962. In 1976 the Austrian business changed its name from Gebrüder Thonet to its current name Gebrüder Thonet Vienna.
The historic collaborations with the most important architects of the Vienna school were critical: Otto Wagner commissioned the design of the Postsparkasse furnishings, and Adolf Loos designed the chair for the Café Museum.
Today, GTV renews its relationship with the world of design by conceiving a new phase of its history together with designers who are preeminent on the international stage. It is a company vision which confirms the vocation of GTV for project research, the link between its own past and the future, with the goal of continuing on the road outlined by tradition through innovation.
In Friedberg, Styria, the „Thonet“ museum, owned by GTV, is a benchmark for its history, where testimonies, curiosities and the most representative original parts of the company find the place to be. A fascinating reality that through these icons of style tells the company’s deep passion for the solid bent wood.
GTVis owned by Moschini Spa from 2003.
All products created by Gebrüder Thonet Vienna GmbH are characterized by the new trademark Wiener GTV Design.
Environmental protection is major challenge for future generations and it is an interesting opportunity for GTV. A clear sign, an incisive foot hold, which marked a path that has always looked keenly towards the continuity, also ethical, between the production cycle and the product. A major commitment taken by the company to offer concrete guarantees in terms of environmental friendliness and care for the clientèle’s health, with the aim of establishing a trust-based relationship through an approach integrated within sustainable development. These are the reasons which have led GTV to achieve the strictest international certifications such as FSC (FOREST STEWARDSHIP COUNCIL), who sets out that the wood used is sourced from ethically managed forests, which will be soon followed by ECOLABEL, the European Union mark that testifies to the reduced environmental impact in its entire life cycle of a product or service. The intrinsic importance, material and not material, of GTV collection is expressed by the brand Wiener GTV Design, engraved on a coin embedded in the structure of each individual piece: a precious detail that attests to the authenticity, in stable equilibrium between industry and craftsmanship.
Tradition, elegance, functionality and lightness are the synthesis of GTV collections, which have always distinguished themselves in the most refined places. The wide diffusion of Thonet has been possible thanks to Michael Thonet, who in the second half of the XIXth century realized the first seats mass production.
The mass production process by keeping very high quality standards has encouraged the product circulation at an international level: starting from Viennese historical locals, where the Thonet chairs became the most typical bar chairs, products appeared in the most refined hotels, restaurants and theatres all over the world. GTV has got a “contract” division, which deals with the big international supplies and looks for solutions able to fulfil the requirements of the most varied places.