Let’s Have Some ….. Chair Times

—– by: lunaviola

My enlightenment understanding the significant and challenging role of designing a chair for an architect or designer is actually attributed to Mario Bellini, the last living Italian design maestro of today, thanks to his exhibition Italian Beauty in Triennale Design Museum 2 years ago. That curiosity motivated me for an adventurous pilgrimage then to Vitra Design Museum, one of the world’s largest collections of modern furniture design, including representative chairs of all major periods and styles. In fact, the Chairs Collection poster bought in their museum shop is still hanging in my studio now serving as an encyclopedia guide of the seating history.

Today, in occasion of screening the film Chair Times, the chairman of Vitra Rolf Fehlbaum presented on the stage of the 7th Milano Design Film Festival.

As the capital of design, Milano does not satisfy itself just to offer you the world-known annual Salone del Mobile and Milan Design Week, but also, here it is, from today lasting for 4 days with more than 50 wide selection of films, the yearly rendezvous with cinema and design. The festival will bring together stories of architects and designers, styles, avant-garde movements and investigations into major social issues.

Rolf Fehlbaum is undoubtedly a great gift from the festival that the audience may not have the privilege to meet with otherwise, but may I confess that this documentary turns out to be quite a disappointment, for sure not the kind to be the candidate of “best documentary” in any film festival. The only compliment I may give is the re-edited music of “E lucevan le stelle” from Tosca which perfectly fits the set scenes. The film language to narrate stories is simply too flat, just trying my best not to be offensive and avoid using the word “boring”.

Apart from the film itself, looking from the point of design, there is indeed a very interesting issue to look into though, that is: Italian chair design.

As the renowned furniture designer Charles Eames said, the role of the designer is “that of a very good, thoughtful host, all of whose energy goes into trying to anticipate the needs of his guests”, and no object represents that task more perfectly than a chair.

Chairs are integral to every aspect of modern life – we use them when we eat, write, read, work, rest, when we converse and even when we sleep. Most important of all, this ubiquitous object challenges a have-to-be-good design to perform its primary function – that is of providing adequate support to a very complex moving machine, which is the human body. Just like to test a chef, seemingly simply cacio e pepe could be a tricky dish, and to understand a designer, would be effectively enough to see how he designs a chair.

Here’s a very brief retrospection for you to enter, as the first step, the world of Italian’s chair designs:

Gio Ponti: Superleggera
Gaetano Pesce: Up
Alessandro Mendini: Proust
Piero Gatti: Sacco
Gae Aulenti: Ghost
Mario Bellini: CAB
Franco Albini: Luisa
Marco Zanuso: Lady
Achille Castiglioni: Mezzadro
Franco Albini: Margherita
Cini Boeri: Serpentone
Fabio Novembre: Him & Her

When thinking of classical icon chair designs, it seems to end up with quite limited choices as we strictly limit the nationality of designers to Italians. Well, still more to be discovered, but as said, enough for now as step one.

Nevertheless, Milano Design Film Festival would be on for other 3 days. Design and film lovers don’t miss your moments for a discovering trip!

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