René Herbst was born in Paris in 1891 and went on to study architecture in London and Frankfurt from 1908. After travelling extensively in Russia and Italy René Herbst returned to Paris in 1919, where he started working as a furniture designer and interior decorator. He founded Établissements René Herbst to produce the pieces he designed.
In 1925 René Herbst designed several exhibition stalls for the Paris "Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes". In 1927 René Herbst designed the revolutionary and functional "Chaise Sandows" seating. The chair frames were nickel-plated tubular steel with the seat and back made from rubber strips stretched taut and fastened to the frame by hooks. René Herbst first showed his "Chaise Sandows" at the 1929 Salon d'Automne, where Le Corbusier also presented furniture with tubular steel frames.
In 1930 René Herbst joined Robert Mallet-Stevens, Francis Jourdain, and others in founding the Union des Artistes Modernes (UAM). The UAM was founded as a counter-movement to Art Déco.