The Thonet Rocking Chair. Its hard to think this design has been around since 1862. No-one seems to know who designed it. It was probably one of the first flat packs of its day, made up of simple bentwood elements that can be easily transported.This is the first one I have bought and is in excellent condition having been recovered probably in the 1960's. Its not as simple as the later Joseph Hoffman designs but it is simple to equate this method of construction with the way furniture was to be designed by all, with cost of production and ease of assembly in mind.
Mies Van Der Rohe owes a debt of gratitude to Thonet and their pioneering use of beech. Van Deh Rohe would employ the use of simple shapes and use he strength of steel to design cantilevered shapes.
Beech is a tight grained timber that allowed the steaming of the wood and the immediate bending into shapes, that must have astounded when first retailed.
Or maybe they were criticised taking away the skill of the cabinet makers art. But what is in no doubt is that it helped make furniture affordable for the mass market.