Monday, April 29, 2019

The UP5 and 6 Chair Becomes A Work of Art

Italian designer Gaetano Pesce created a special gigantic version of his iconic UP5 and 6 Chair, also known as the "Donna" Chair (previously here) for this month's Milan Design Week.

Gaetano Pesce originally created his chair for B&B Italia (then known as C&B Italia) in 1969 out of polyurethane foam and a jersey stretch fabric. Primarily an architect, Pesce is also an industrial designer working on creating chairs with organic forms. His UP5 and 6 Chair--5 is the chair and 6 is the attached ottoman--is also known as the "La Mama Chair" or the "Donna Chair" (donna being the Italian word for woman) because the form is unmistakably female. The chair is still in production through B&B Italia who describe the chair this way:

"The chair is a metaphor of a large comfortable womb and recalls ancient statues of fertility goddesses. However, it has something extra: a spherical ottoman tied to the armchair. Therefore, the image of comfort and convenience is combined with a more figurative image of a woman with a ball and chain on her foot. Gaetano Pesce explains the project as follows: 'At that time, I was telling a personal story about my concept of women: I believe that women have always been unwilling prisoners of themselves. This is why I decided to give this armchair the shape of a woman with a ball and chain, a traditional image of a prisoner.'"

Perhaps what Pesce more accurately means is that women, by being themselves, have always been prisoners of men.

So to mark the 50th anniversary of the chair, and to highlight the ongoing struggles that women around the world face on a daily basis, Pesce revisited his Donna Chair, creating a 26-foot high version pierced with arrows to bring attention to violence against women. Titled "Maestà Soffrente," or "Suffering Majesty," the piece was shown from April 7 to 14, 2019 in the Piazza del Duomo, in front of the Milan Cathedral.

Photos of "Maestà Soffrente" by Matteo Piazza

Happy designing!

Monday, April 15, 2019

Spring Has Sprung 2019

Happy Easter and happy spring renewal to all!

Easter developed from the Old English word Ēastre or Ēostre, derived from the Anglo-Saxon Pagan month of Eostur-monath (which roughly corresponds to our month of April). This month was named after the goddess Ēostre or Ostara who symbolized the dawn, spring, renewal, and rebirth of the earth after the long winter.

Now we celebrate by decorating eggs, a symbol of birth and fertility and new growth, and with chocolate rabbits, since bunnies are also a symbol of spring.

When I was a young boy, I always loved Easter time because my grandmother displayed vases of daffodils and lilies, and panoramic sugar eggs around the house. And my aunt hollowed out eggs, cut a window in the side of the shell, and painstakingly assembled pastoral scenes inside using miniature trees and flowers, and tiny ceramic rabbits to make literal panoramic eggs. But the best part was the Easter Bunny who came to deliver beautifully dyed and decorated eggs in a basket full of chocolate and treats; my mom and dad would guide me through the house with clues as to where the Easter Bunny hid my basket (thanks Mom and Dad--I miss you)!

If you're planning a celebration of the season, let the following tablescape images of flowers, eggs, and spring colors inspire you.

Happy designing!

Monday, April 1, 2019

Know Your Chairs: The Balloon Back Chair

In our continuing series Know Your Chairs, we are taking a step back in time to examine a type of chair popular in the Victorian era.

The Balloon Back Chair first appeared around 1830 - 1835 and evolved from the rectilinear yoke back chair of the time. In time, the top rail became curved and integrated into the side stiles. Characterized by a rounded back that is nipped at the waist, the chair eventually featured cabriole legs in a nod to Louis XV and encouraged by the Great Exhibition of 1851 at which Rococo-detailed furniture featured prominently.

The chair back indeed looks like a hot air balloon which was in vogue during this period. It also features a stretcher or rail at the narrow, nipped part of the back. And the finishing touch was the addition of curved lines and swooping elements to the seat and seat deck.

Happy designing!