Five versions of one piece of furniture: that’s the relevance of the Luisa armchair. The first drawings date back to 1939. Poggi developed the fifth (and last) version in 1955. What do they all have in common? The designer: Franco Albini. Throughout the 16 years of production, different companies have brought this armchair to the world and the public. And Albini connected each and every element (from drawings to companies) of this creation.
However, the history and adventure of this armchair weren’t over. In fact, the Italian design company Cassina reissued it in 2008. Why? Because this is a timeless piece of furniture, made of technique and beauty. Actually, it’s more than a piece of furniture. Albini’s creation still fits the contemporary home and workplace, even decades later.
The Specs of the Luisa Armchair
The Luisa armchair is also known as 832. Its first edition dates back to 1939. The first drawings and designs all featured a wooden structure with supports both on the front and back. Specifically, these are the Luisa armchairs developed first for the decor of Villa Pestarini, then by the company Saffa, and the third version for the store of AR.AR. in Milan (the 1942 version). They all had a body with a chassis shape, even the one for the Hotz institute created in 1945.
Two years later, Albini launched a new version, this time designed for Knoll. The backrest and seat featured a linear structure, with the cushions hooked into the body. Thanks to the help of Ezio and Roberto Poggi, the Italian designer perfectioned the details of the Luisa armchair, focusing mainly on the points of conjunction. These became stronger, perfect for every room and use.
The seat and the backrest are made of polyurethane foam, and they are covered in fabric. In 1954, a version of the Luisa armchair featured teak as a material, and the covering of the seat was a light-colored fabric. While the last drawings by Franco Albini date back to 1955, a 1957 version was also produced. This was the last one, and it featured removable side crosspieces thanks to the use of Allen wrenches. The company Poggi created this version. Albini also produced the LB7 Bookcase for this Italian manufacturer, which later worked with Vico Magistretti, Afra and Tobia Scarpa, and Marco Zanuso.
The History Behind It
The many versions over the years prove Albini’s desire to improve. Why Luisa? The name comes from the designer’s personal assistant. It was a homage to her. The idea behind the Luisa armchair is to create a piece that is always functional, no matter where you put it. Thanks to its lines, shapes, and forms, this piece looks great, no matter the surrounding decor. Plus, it’s comfortable, both for a family and the workplace.
But it’s important to remember that this armchair is a result of industrial design style. So, Albini thought about every detail and technique to make sure it fits the demands of mass production. Unlike traditional Italian design, the industrial style pieces weren’t meant to be a unique, exclusive one-piece. Instead, they were intended to be widespread, easy to produce, and sell to the public; even the international public.
Thanks to its elegant structure and the combination of materials, the Luisa armchair is still innovative, even in the 2008 reissue by Cassina. No matter how many versions there are or there might be of this creation, it will always inspire companies and enthusiasts of Italian design. At first, dedicated to the personal assistant Luisa, this armchair made it beyond a homage. It’s the long-lasting homage of design, a power that only true art has.