Here, there and everychair
Fabrizio Bensch/REUTERS, 2006
The stackable white plastic chair is probably one of the most recognisable items of furniture in the world. But thanks to its reputation as a staple of garden patios, poolside bars and outdoor eateries, it's not much admired by designers. New book 220ºC Virus Monobloc aims to change that...
Published by Gestalten, 220ºC Virus Monobloc documents the love-hate relationship that designers have had with the ubiquitous white plastic chair. Single-piece plastic chairs have, of course, been readily produced by studios since the late 1960s (Vico Magistretti's Selene model and Verner Panton's eponymous injection-molded classic, being two early examples) but the mass-produced versions that were to debut in the early 1980s perhaps have more to answer for.
So in 220°C Virus Monobloc, alongside a range of art and photography that offers more of an ironic take on the infamous chair (see German and English football fans employing it as a handy weapon in Stuttgart, above), a range of well-known designers including Philippe Starck, Jerszy Seymour, Maarten Baas and Konstantin Grcic also pay homage to the object in various new pieces of work.
Incidentally, the name 220°C Virus Monobloc refers to the production process of the chair, which is manufactured from a single press of 220°C hot polypropylene, pushed through an extruder into a mold.
Maarten Baas's Plastic Chair In Wood, 2008 – a carved elmwood version of the Monobloc
According to Maarten Baas his Plastic Chair In Wood (above) "could be something you'd see in an antique shop. It's only when you look at it twice that you realise you've seen it before."
Unique Mono-Block Resin Chairs from Jiao Zhi Studio, Xiamen, China. Photo: Joshua White/JWPictures.com. Courtesy of Sadie Coles HQ, London
With 'Cairo Chair', artist San Keller looks at the culture of repairing and reusing chairs that is prevalent in Egypt's capital. Each Cairo Chair (essentially a brand new Monobloc chair) comes with a manual that features images reminding customers why the chairs need not be thrown away if broken.
Chairs designed by the Campana Brothers. Left, top: Childrens Chairs 2006. Photo: Ed Reeve. Left, bottom: Una Famiglia 2006. Photo: Fernando Laszlo. Right: Coast-to-Coast Chair 2006, TransPlastic Collection. Photo: Fernando Laszlo.
The Easy Chair, produced by Magis
How can anyone not love the white plastic garden chair? If it wasn't for the white plastic garden chair You've been framed would struggle!
Almost every set of plastic white chairs I have come across has been broken in some way.
Got to agree with the stripey horse and remember a story I once read in a popular magazine of a guy who had one in his bathroom and it had broke in only the way a plastic chair can and you know when it nips...well this guy had sat down after a shower to dry him self and ouch yes the more he tried to get up the more it tightened so he had to stay seated to ease the grip on his nipped bits, until the fire brigade came to find him attached to the chair near the phonebox!
See my friend fred rigbys version
Why wouldn't designers admire the white plastic chair? As you said, they are the most recognizable piece of furniture in the world due to their ubiquity, cheap construction, and practical design. How many people can say that about their work?
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