At NeoCon 2016 this week Haworth brought their Italian craftsmen from both Poltrona Frau and Cassina to Chicago where they demonstrated their techniques to the crowds in a series of windows. Sharing decades of experience with the audience.
The Poltrona Frau ‘Chester’ is made from 95% natural materials. The nylon cord contributing to the 5%. The arms include approximately 31 pleats all meticulously hand folded.
Cassina’s “Superleggera” No.699 chair designed by Gio Ponti in 1957 weights a mere 1.7 kilos or 3.75 pounds.
The Cane Seat is hand-woven, the bamboo is cut into strips, for the edges it needs to be soaked first, then knotted.
Gio (Giovanni) Ponti
Design: 1951 – 7
Production: 1957 to the present
Manufacturer: Figli di Amedeo Cassina,
Meda, near Milan
Size: 82.5 x 40 x 44.5; seat height 45.5 cms
Material: varnished ash wood, Spanish cane
Ponti himself describes this chair as the “normal,” “true” chair, the “chair-chair devoid of adjectives.”1 With it, the architect pursued his own standard of keeping things to a bare minimum. At the same time, Ponti’s interest in classic forms finds expression in the chair, just as it does in his buildings. Ponti borrowed the concept for “Superleggera” (super-lightweight) from a series of simple, traditional chairs that have been produced since the nineteenth century in a plant near the Ligurian fishing village of Chiavari. Their stable, lightweight construction and low price made them extremely popular. Ponti was inspired to optimize the qualities of this model during the postwar era, when furnishings were out of necessity frugal. In his first drawings from 1949, he altered the basic form of the Chiavari chair with an ergonomic bend in the backrest and tapered the legs toward the bottom. He then designed the “Leggera” for Cassina in 1951, which reduced the structure of the Chiavari chair to only what was absolutely necessary. It was very similar to the “Superleggera,” but with rods for legs and struts in the backrest. Although the model met with great success among consumers, Ponti strove for even greater perfection and designed the “Superleggera” for Cassina in 1957, using light, stable ash wood and a seat that was either upholstered or covered with a weave of cane or colored cellophane. Ponti reduced the round cuts of wood to a triangular cross section with edges only 18 mm long, and devised an ingenious system of slot-in connectors in which the individual struts are inserted firmly inside one another: the result is a stable chair weighing a mere 1.7 kilo. To put these to the test, Ponti threw the chair from the fourth story of an apartment building into the street, where it bounced like a ball without breaking. MS
 Gio Ponti, “Senza aggetivi,” Domus 268 (Milan, March 1952), 1.
Gio (Giovanni) Ponti