Read the backstory on these chairs (and check out all the research Oldham did on Thonet) in detail on his blog (under "Curve Appeal"). In the meantime, here's some details on how he reupholstered these chairs--it could inspire us all to tackle a DIY reupholstery project in the near future!
"After taking the vinyl covers off the chairs I noticed that the inside craftsmanship is just as beautiful as the outside. The bent-wood is clean and smooth and the way the padding is glued on is amazing. It has been glued on so that it does not wrap around the edge of the wood and is still in tact after 40 plus years. In fact it has not even dried out or crummbled in anyway. Once the back brace is removed, the back cushion separates into 2 pieces."
"I wanted something graphic, tropical, but subtle. I covered the seats and backs in a natural linen which used to be curtains about 15 years ago. The seats were printed by taking 6 different leaves from the yard and painting each one with gold silkscreen ink. I then turned the leaves over and pressed the ink onto the seat. I got the exact look I wanted - subtle. They have a certain natural and worn in look."
"The legs and back braces were also stripped of the brown paint that was on them and were stained which now shows all the beautiful layers of veneer used to achieve the bent form."
"Attaching the piping on the back cushions. Close the piping by tucking one end into the otherand folding back top layer 1/4 of an inch. Make sure to leave on any original tags if possible."
"Staple on a bottom cover to hide raw edges of fabric and wood. I like to use materials like felt, vinyl, ultra suede or even an inexpensive plastic table cloth because the edges of these materials does not fray or unravel and provides a clean finish on the bottom. I used the black vinyl from my 1950's daybed cushions that I am in the middle of recovering as well. There is nothing wrong with the vinyl so why not reuse it? I never throw anything away that I might be able to use again. Vinyl works well for the under sides, but here in Hawaii not so much for a cushion."