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Gio Ponti’s Superleggera Chair #Gio Ponti


Among the wide variety of Gio Ponti’s work there are some milestones of modernity in Italy, such as the Pirelli Tower or the Distex Lounge Chair. But there is also a part of his work that is fruitfully interwoven with tradition.

At the end of the thirties, Ponti created a series of designs along the Italian seaside, such as Villa Marchesano in Bordighera or San Michele Hotel in Capri, where he was looking for a synthesis of modern architecture and the vernacular architecture built on the Mediterranean shore. In the fifties, he discovered again this synthesis in the architecture of José Antonio Coderch and publicised it at international level as the editor of the Domus magazine.

In 1952 Ponti found inspiration in the structural system of the Chiavarina, a chair made by Ligurian craftsmen since the early XIXth century that has been used in most of the Italian homes. Based on this traditional chair, Ponti developed for Cassina the Leggera Chair, made of ashwood and woven cane. Light but solid, Ponti threw it through the window of his fourth-floor studio to prove its resistance and, instead of breaking, it bounced as a ball in front of an astonished audience.

The Leggera Chair turned, through five years of experiments that included the most sophisticated calculations, into the Superleggera Chair, so light that it could be hold using just one finger. The Superleggera Chair, only 1.7kg of weight, is characterised by its extremely slender legs with a triangular section and it became immediately a design icon. With this chair, Ponti defined a new concept of elegance based on the sobriety of traditional furniture.