Mario Bellini – 412 Cab Chair (1977)

 Like skin on a skeleton, Mario Bellini’s Cab Chair consists of a leather cover stretched over a minimal tubular steel frame. “This was a new kind of chair, constructed totally out of leather.” Thus, Mario Bellini describes the Cab Chair, a best-seller that he designed in the 1970s, which is now a signature piece in Cassina’s Contemporary Collection.

The Cab Chair was the first-ever chair to feature a free-standing leather structure, inspired by how our skin fits our skeleton. The upholstery consists of sixteen pieces of saddle leather that undergo fourteen procedures by hand. The pieces are sewn together only when their outer edges have been trimmed to ensure a perfect fit. Once assembled, the cover is attached to the chair’s steel skeleton and held in place by means of a zipper fastening, as in a bespoke tailored garment. The only additional reinforcement is provided by a plastic plate, which supports the seat. Bellini’s innovation lay in using zippers to fasten the leather cover to its frame; a zip runs up the inside of each leg, sealing the cover in place. Bellini’s decision to completely envelop the supporting structure lends the chair a unified appearance enhanced by the natural leather and the chair surely age with great beauty.

Author: Anna Marie Fisker