E15 (top image)
Last year, we were very excited about Stefan Diez's CH04 Houdini chair for German manufacturer E15. It was made by hand-stretching plywood around a wooden ring to form the back and seat. The light material and seemingly simple construction made it appear origami-like, yet it was a surprisingly sturdy piece of furniture. This year, E15 tried to build on that success by expanding the collection to include a stool, two types of sofas, two types of lounge chairs and a pouf. The EC03 Eugene lounge chair is probably the best example of how the series has expanded. The high-back armchair gently hugs the sitter and its seat is covered with a modest cushion. It's like an armchair for monks.
Luca Nichetto was showing work all over Milan but his best piece was for Sweden's Offecct at the Fiera. His Robo chair is an interesting take on flatpacking. All the parts of the moulded ash frame fit into a 50 x 50 x 20cm box and it's easily assembled by slotting the pieces together through the connecting steel joints. The result feels strangely out if date, but then the inspiration came from a Björk music video from the 1990s.
Sure, the Pinocchio chair is far from elegant, but nevertheless it has a charm that is difficult to resist, especially in this children's version. Designed by Swedish designer Mats Theselius for the small Swedish firm Källemo, the chair is produced in solid birch with a linoleum covered seat. The chubby, cylindrical legs are joined at the top by rectangular pieces of wood that jut out at the back to support the backrest, equally simply constructed.
"It was a labour of love," says Industrial Facility's Sam Hecht about the Branca chair, the second product released by Italian manufacturer Mattiazzi. Branca is in fact Industrial Facility's first chair and the technique of making it was very different from its previous projects. Matiazzi uses a combination of robotic CNC milling and handcraft processes to turn the legs and backrest of the chair, which are joined together by almost invisible joints while the seat seems to float above the base. It is far away from the mass production pieces that Industrial Facility normally work on. The chair we saw at Milan was stained a beautiful green hue, but there are no pictures of that version yet.
The strongest pieces in Magis' new collection was a series of metal chairs by Tom Dixon and Martino Gamper. Gamper's Vignia chair is his first collaboration with Magis and it seems like a clear departure for the manufacturer. It's like a minimal take on a traditional wrought-iron garden chair where the metal wire swirls around to form the legs and back rest. In contrast, the seat is made from removable injection-moulded plastic. For Gamper, who mostly works in wood, the experience of working in metal was new "but I really enjoyed the process," he says.
Johanna Agerman and Anna Bates