"Fox" designed by Patrick Norguet for Pedrali surprises with an elegant shape and a material mix of plastic and ash wood. The metal legs version is stackable.

A chair will always be a chair: Functional sensuality

Concealed plastic, retro chic and stackable elegance: the number-one furniture item and its many facets.
by Anna Moldenhauer | 4/10/2017

The chair: Ever since Michael Thonet established the number-one seat as a mass-produced industrial article, there has hardly been a designer who hasn’t tried their hand at making one. Designing a chair is voluntary just as it is mandatory, and because the chair is still the universal furniture item par excellence, once again this year the Salone del Mobile offers a wide variety of different models.

This year we are once more often seeing references to the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s: Rounded backrests, curved silhouettes, organic shapes and strong colors have long since been back in fashion. “Lucky” by Luka Stepan for Blå Station takes it to the extreme, with the varnished plywood pressed into an expressive form that could bring pure joy to the hearts of the Flower Power generation. In terms of materials, the familiar plastic seat shell frequently puts in an appearance, sometimes incognito and in new company – for instance together with an ash-wood frame in Pedrali’s “Fox” by Patrick Norguet. The combination with a delicate steel frame is also popular, be it in Desalto’s “Ply” by Pocci + Dondoli or in Arper’s “Cila” by Lievore Altherr. In contrast, the redesign (without armrests) of the elegant “Softshell Chair” by Vitra gets by without any combination of materials. In fact, like its predecessor, the “Softshell Side Chair” by Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec is made of fiberglass-reinforced polyamide, a synthetic fiber you would generally expect to find in the textile industry.

So, today’s chair should be highly versatile and light as a feather, ideally also conceived for the public space (meaning stackable) yet at the same time it should invite people to sit in comfort. With “Primo” for Mattiazzi, Konstantin Grcic ticks absolutely all the boxes in an unusually subtle way: with a straight, almost architectural shape made of solid beech or oak, combined with a curved, slightly tilted backrest that perfectly supports the back and a wide seat that can optionally be fitted with leather upholstery. The sculptural qualities of the model are particularly evident in the gold-colored version. Grcic’s new “Monza Bistro Chair” for Plank likewise bridges aesthetics and function in the combination of beech and plastic.

In addition to elegance, lightness and discreet lines, the chairs at the Salone offer any number of ways of embracing you: Broad, protective backrests highlight the coziness factor and wrap around the user in various ways, as in “Nuez Chair” by Patricia Urquoila for Andreu World, or the chair by Jasper Morrison and Emeco for the “1-inch-collection”, made of recycled aluminum tubing.

Thanks to their appealing forms, many models boast a fluid transition to the armchair. So lolling about is evidently allowed again even on a chair.

The successor to the "Softshell chairs" of the Bouroullec brothers offers flexible, vertically arranged slats under the lid of the backrest for a comfortable sitting.
Sculptural effect thanks to clear lines: "Primo" by Konstantin Grcic for Mattiazi.
"Ply" by Desalto combines a scaffold of steel with plastic seat and backrest surfaces.
For "Nym" the designer trio Cazzaniga Mandelli Pagliarulo for Pedrali used the form of the English Windsor chair as inspiration.
Jasper Morrison shaped "1 inch" of recycled, rectangular aluminum tube, the width of which became the name of the entire collection.
The "Monza Bistro Chair" by Konstantin Grcic for Plank is available in black, white, caffe latte, caramel and terra brown.
Patricia Urquiola shaped the seat of the chair "Nuez" for Andreu World, following the example of a folded sheet of paper.
Thanks to a gentle curved silhouette "Cila" by Arper fits into our own four walls as those in gastronomy.
The seventies are back: "Lucky" from Blå Station plays swingingly with open and closed surfaces.
The “Chair One" by Konstantin Grcic gets a new color spectrum at Salone del Mobile.