Marco Zanuso, Richard Sapper
Design: 1959 - 64
Manufacturer: Gavina s.p.a., Bologna
Size: 77.5 x 39.5 x 46; seat height 44 cms
Material: stamped steel, varnished; rubber
Marco Zanuso is considered the great rationalist of postwar Italian design. In 1939 he took a degree in architecture at the Milan Polytechnic and opened his own office in 1945. Between 1958 and 1977 he collaborated closely with Richard Sapper.
Zanuso dedicated himself intensively to material analysis and technology research. In 1959 he received a contract for the development of a low-cost kitchen chair whose seat and back should be made out of plastic; his client gave him complete design freedom in creating the connections of the parts and the shape of the base. After producing numerous prototypes, Zanuso disregarded the original specifications and developed an all-metal chair. One of these trial models was awarded the silver medal of the XII Milan Triennial.
He envisioned mass-production as in the automobile industry and was involved with preliminary technological studies over the course of five years.
The “Lambda” consists of a total often stamped, thin sheets of metal, which could also be shaped and assembled by small metalworking shops. The seat shell has a double-walled construction. In the space inbetween the seat and back sections, the inner and outer form differ from each other to the greatest degree, thus creating the greatest hollow space. This increases the stability. The four U-shaped folded legs blend with the inner shell and are securely connected with the outer shell by curved gussets. All connections are electrically spot-welded together. At the end of the process, the chair is sprayed in high-gloss paint.
This particular construction affords a great degree of stability despite the use of a thin material and its minimal weight.
The fold of the legs predates the later style of low-cost plastic garden chairs. Unlike these, the “Lambda” cannot be stacked.
A later version was planned with a leather pad which was to be glued into the shell. Despite the already mentioned advantages, it still was not possible for Zanuso to succeed in automating production. Since the individual parts had to be assembled by hand, the expected high unit output was not achieved. The design was discontinued after the trial series. PD
Marco Zanuso and Richard Sapper