Gio Ponti- The Superleggera Chair (1957)

“Archetype of a chair”

The Superleggera is a lightweight (only 1.7kg !) dining chair, designed by Italian architect and designer Gio Ponti for the Italian furniture manufacturer Cassina in 1957. The Superleggera was a result of intense collaboration between designer and manufacturers. The challenge was to strip back the ash frame until its legs and back became triangles so slim they seem barely to be there at all. Already creating a triangular frame with 18mm-thin edges was a huge technical achievement, but Ponti wanted the chair to be suitable for mass production and strong enough for daily use too. His solution was an ingenious slot-together construction method that made the Superleggera tough enough to survive being hurled from a fourth-floor window, and so simple to build that it has been in continuous production for 61 years. The Superleggera became the essence of modernity, yet it was also friendly familiar in its form. Ponti’s chair is rooted in Italy’s craft-based furniture heritage. Ponti, the architect of the famous Pirelli building in Milan, was in the 1950’s searching for other sources outside modern architecture. He looked for the inspiration in traditional furniture and found it in fishing villages of Chiavari. The Superleggera was made out as an echo of the ladder-back Chiavari chair, ubiquitous on the Italian Riviera since the 19th century and became widely used throughout Italy.

Author: Martina Malešič

Photo: Giorgio Casali for the “Domus” magazine