LONDON - Thonet, renown for its steam bent wood chairs, commissioned architect/designer Andy Martin to create a bentwood bicycle paying homage to the company's original mid-19th century seating.
The result is a sleek bike composed of steam bent and solid beach wood, that has no brakes and sells for $70,000. A CNC router was employed to machine beech parts that could not be accomplished by the hand steam bending process. Martin also developed connectors and sprung rods to reinforce joints and the frame.
Austrian-born Martin, who heads Andy Martin Architects in London, said, "The challenge was to take on fairly low tech process of steam bending and then apply it to a 21st century bicycle with highly complex engineering."
Founder Michael Thonet first began experimenting with what was soon to be known as "bentwood" furniture in about 1830. The process allowed Thonet and his sons to produce bentwood furniture on an industrial scale.
Thonet was purchased by Shelby Williams in 1987. Shelby Williams is now a part of the CF Group, which also includes Falcon and Howe furniture brands.
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