The Sgarsul Rocking Chair is a timeless piece of furniture that has stood the test of time in terms of design and durability. Designed by the renowned Italian architect Gae Aulenti for Poltronova, the chair has become an iconic symbol of modern design and functionality.
The Design and Specs of the Sgarsul Rocking Chair
The Sgarsul Rocking Chair is made of a plywood frame with a seat and backrest upholstered leather. This combination of materials gives the chair a unique mix of industrial and natural elements, making it stand out among other rocking chairs.
The dimensions of the chair are 36.6 in. (height) x 39.4 in. (width) x 31.5 in. (depth), with a seat height of 17.7 in. Its compact size makes it suitable for any living space, whether a small apartment or a spacious home.
The History Behind the Sgarsul Rocking Chair
Milan in the Early 1960s: A City of Creative Energy
In the early 1960s, Milan was a city buzzing with creative energy and innovative spirit. The economic boom and the euphoria it brought affected various sectors equally, including entrepreneurs, designers, and young creatives. The period marked a strong inclination towards innovation, intertwined with a conscious effort to remember and integrate the lessons of tradition, reflecting the proverbial Milanese pragmatism.
“Nuovi disegni per il mobile italiano” Exhibition: Challenging the Orthodoxy
In March 1960, Milan’s “Osservatorio Delle Arti Industriali,” established just a few years earlier, organized the “Nuovi disegni per il mobile italiano” (New Designs for Italian Furniture) exhibition. The exhibition was a crucial moment in Italian design history, displaying the desire to challenge, if not alter, the functionalist paradigm and the orthodoxy of the Modern Movement. Among the young Milanese architects whose works were on display was Gae Aulenti.
A Vision for Design: Beyond Mass Industrial Production
Aulenti and her contemporaries shared a vision of overcoming design focused solely on mass industrial production. They aimed to foster a more vibrant and less standardized relationship with domestic space and the act of living. In the words of Gillo Dorfles, this shift in thinking allowed us to transition “from a rectangular, geometric age to one of enveloping sensuality.”
The Sgarsul Rocking Chair: A Milestone in Design History
During this transformation, Gae Aulenti, in her early thirties, debuted as a designer with a project that perfectly embodied this trend – the Sgarsul Rocking Chair. Produced in 1962 by Poltronova, a Tuscan company known for its strong craftsmanship traditions and innovative spirit, the Sgarsul rocking chair marked a significant milestone in design history.
The Design of Sgarsul: Modern Reimagining of Tradition
“Sgarsul,” translating to “street urchin” in the Neapolitan dialect, was a modern reimagining of Thonet’s 1862 rocking chair No. 1. The chair featured a sinuous frame made of curved and stained beech wood, comfortable polyurethane padding, and sophisticated leather upholstery. Its structure, characterized by fluid, drop-shaped lines, supported a pouch designed to hug the body comfortably. This pouch, designed to need as few stitches as possible, showcased foam rubber padding within a plastic fabric.
The Enveloping Comfort: Merging Industrial Manufacturing and Handcrafted Techniques
The form, as Dorfles described, was indeed “enveloping.” The chair’s appearance alone conveyed comfort and a sense of bourgeois coziness. Yet, the production process demonstrated a merger of industrial manufacturing with more distinctly handcrafted techniques. The Sgarsul Rocking Chair, a clear nod to the Thonet model, embodied Gae Aulenti’s innovative approach – not as a rejection of the past, but as a creative and inventive dialogue with it.
The Functionality of the Sgarsul Rocking Chair
Aside from its unique design, the Sgarsul Rocking Chair is also highly functional. Its rocking motion provides a soothing and calming experience, perfect for relaxation after a long day. It’s also great for nursing mothers or anyone who wants to rock their little ones to sleep.
The History of Poltronova and Gae Aulenti
Poltronova, founded in 1957 by Sergio Cammilli, is an Italian furniture company known for its modern and innovative designs. In 1962, Poltronova collaborated with Gae Aulenti, creating the iconic Sgarsul Rocking Chair. This marked the start of a successful partnership between Aulenti and Poltronova, leading to other remarkable designs. Poltronova has also collaborated with notable designers such as Ettore Sottsass, Archizoom, Giovanni Michelucci, and De Pas D’Urbino and Lomazzi, further solidifying its reputation as a haven for design excellence.
Concluding Thoughts on the Sgarsul Rocking Chair
In conclusion, the Sgarsul Rocking Chair by Gae Aulenti for Poltronova remains a timeless piece of furniture design. It encapsulates a historic moment in design evolution, representing a harmonious blend of traditional craftsmanship and modern industrial techniques. The chair’s unique aesthetic and functional features continue to captivate users, transcending trends and eras. Its creation has indelibly marked Aulenti’s collaboration with Poltronova, contributing significantly to their shared legacy of design brilliance. Ultimately, the Sgarsul Rocking Chair is a testament to Gae Aulenti’s profound understanding of form and function, a glowing symbol of her remarkable ingenuity and inventiveness.