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Marco Zanuso 'Lady' Chair

Marco Zanuso 'Lady' Chair

What do a lounge chair and tyre manufacturer have in common?

Instigated by the post war housing and material shortage, industrial innovation and the promotion of “furniture that is well-designed yet moderate in price”, in 1948 MoMA launched the International Competition For Low-Cost Furniture Design. New dwellings would require contemporary furnishings suited to modern living, MoMA sought to elevate the emerging furniture market, placing emphasis on quality, durability and aesthetics. Close to 3000 designs were submitted under the categories, seating, storage and 'convertible living room-bedroom piece'.

Milan trained architect and then editor of 'Domus' magazine Marco Zanuso submitted his innovative entry within the seating category, it was here that the work of Zanuso caught the attention of fellow Italian manufacturer, Pirelli.

With a background in rubber, tyre and cable production, in 1948 Pirelli formed the new furniture division ‘Ar-Flex’. Seeking to explore the advances in a new foam rubber 'Gommapiuma', structural manufacturing and Zancuso's unique method of attaching upholstered elements to a steel frame. After several years of development, the resulting blend between innovation, ergonomics and shape would form the ‘Lady' chair.

An important departure from traditional upholstered furnishings, the flexibity of foam allowing sensuous yet supportive curves and heavy traditional inner springs were swapped for lightweight elasticated webbing (nastrocord) for the internal structure.

In 1951 Ar-Flex launched the 'Lady' chair at the Milan Triennial and won gold. An icon of mid-century design and Italian aesthetic, this chair continues to give visual and ergonomic pleasure.