Michael Thonet was born in the town of Boppard am Rhein, Germany in 1796. A skilled craftsman, he painstakingly carved his furniture from European beech until he discovered a method of bending wood, using a pressure vessel to steam the beech rods he used for his furniture to make them pliable. His furniture designes were simple and gracefile with a distinctive quality that belied its true strength. His production process was patented, and the exclusive domain of Gebruder Thonet for more than a decade before it was emulated by others. Thonet created his No. 14 chair in the 1850's, and it quickly became popular.