Bent wood makes a comeback

Milan's annual furniture fair has just come to a close but one of the interesting things to surface from the massive numbers of products on offer was a resurgence of interest in the use of bent wood. Pioneered in the 1870's by Michael Thonet the method has never really gone away. The beautiful curved lines that are a signature of the method are still very much in evidence. 

 The 'Lehnstuhl' by Nigel Coates for Gebrüder Thonet. Not surprisingly Gebrüder Thonet do bent wood better than anyone. They invented it after all.

The 'Lehnstuhl' by Nigel Coates for Gebrüder Thonet. Not surprisingly Gebrüder Thonet do bent wood better than anyone. They invented it after all.

What is quite miraculous that it still holds a magic appeal. The continuous ribbon-like forms set themselves apart from other methods of crating curvilinear forms. While there has been a growth in intricate, fully carved components with exaggerated curves such as Jaime Hayon's '22' chair for Ceccotti from 2013, nothing beats the simplicity of steam bending a whole piece of solid wood. 

 Jaime Hayon's sketch for his new 'Frames' armchair for Spanish brand, Expormim. Expormim specialise in bent rattan.

Jaime Hayon's sketch for his new 'Frames' armchair for Spanish brand, Expormim. Expormim specialise in bent rattan.

 Hayon's 'Frames' armchair for Expormim.

Hayon's 'Frames' armchair for Expormim.

Hayon's new chair uses the bent wood technique but in a different material. Rattan has been used for centuries to create furniture and one of the beauties of the material is it's ability to bend.  

Another company that has a real passion for bent wood products id the recently formed Very Wood. This year they launched a new chair designed by LucidiPevere (Paolo Lucidi & Luca Pevere). The 'Gerla' chair has a large amount of detailed bending in the back rest.

 LucidiPevere's 'Gerla' chair for Very Wood - classic bentwood technique with a twist. 

LucidiPevere's 'Gerla' chair for Very Wood - classic bentwood technique with a twist. 

Proving that bent wood is not just a chair phenomenon, Swedish designers, Front have produced a gorgeous bentwood mirror frame, 'Loop' for Porro.

 Front's new mirror for Porro is actually a combination of bending and carving.

Front's new mirror for Porro is actually a combination of bending and carving.

The last example of the bent wood technique that sparked my initial interest in the topic is the 'Eve' chair by Timo Ripatti - a Finnish designer. The prototype was exhibited at the Triennale di Milano during design week and was awarded a first prize in the Lexus Creating Amazing award in September 2013.

 The 'Eve' chair by Timo Ripatti.

The 'Eve' chair by Timo Ripatti.

Another Front product for Gebrüder Thonet - 'Coatrack'.