What is Bentwood?

Bentwood refers to a technique and style of woodworking where wood is bent into curved shapes.


Bentwood is a hallmark technique and style within both traditional and modern interior design, recognized for its unique process of shaping wood. The technique involves softening wood through steaming or soaking in water, allowing it to be easily bent into various curved forms. Once the wood dries, it retains the new shape, producing furniture or architectural elements with smooth, flowing lines. This method, developed in the 19th century, epitomizes the blend of functionality and aesthetic appeal, offering both strength and beauty in design. Bentwood objects are celebrated for their elegance and simplicity, often becoming statement pieces in a space due to their distinctive forms.

Exploring the possibilities of wooden materials, bentwood technique has been applied to create a wide range of items, from chairs and tables to lighting fixtures and decorative objects. The most famous application of bentwood is perhaps in the creation of café chairs by Michael Thonet, which have become iconic in the design world. Whether in traditional settings or modern interiors, bentwood pieces bring a sense of organic warmth and sophistication, seamlessly integrating with various design styles.


Bentwood is widely used in furniture making, creating pieces such as chairs, tables, and shelving units. It is also seen in interior architectural elements like handrails and decorative panels. In addition to their application in residential settings, bentwood items are popular in commercial and hospitality spaces, such as cafes, restaurants, and hotels, where they add a touch of elegance and comfort.


  • How is wood bent into shape in the bentwood process?

    Wood is softened through steaming or soaking in water, which makes it pliable. It is then bent into shape and left to dry, which causes it to retain the new form.

  • Why is bentwood popular in furniture design?

    Bentwood is popular due to its elegant and sophisticated appearance, combined with its strength and durability. The technique also allows for creative freedom in designing curves and shapes not achievable with traditional woodworking methods.

  • Can bentwood be used in outdoor furniture?

    Yes, bentwood can be used in outdoor furniture, especially when treated with waterproof finishes. However, its use outdoors may require more maintenance to protect against the elements.

  • Is bentwood furniture more expensive than other types?

    The cost of bentwood furniture can vary, but due to the specialized production process, it may be higher than furniture made with standard woodworking techniques. Nevertheless, its durability and timeless design often make it a valuable investment.

  • What are some iconic bentwood furniture pieces?

    The most iconic bentwood furniture pieces include the Thonet café chairs, designed by Michael Thonet in the 19th century. These chairs revolutionized furniture design and remain popular today.

Practical Application

To incorporate bentwood into your design, consider using bentwood chairs or tables as accent pieces in a room to add elegance and a sense of flow. Because of its structural strength, bentwood is also excellent for items that require durability, such as shelving units. When blending bentwood with other elements in a space, pay attention to how its organic shapes can complement more angular designs, creating a balanced interior.