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