4801 Armchair by Joe Colombo for Kartell

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The 4801 armchair, a masterpiece of furniture design, is renowned for its historical significance and technical innovation. Its design and production timeline spans several decades, witnessing various modifications and adaptations.

The Genesis of the 4801 Armchair

The 4801 armchair was born out of the creative genius of Joe Colombo in 1964. Kartell, a company renowned for its innovative approach to furniture design, produced this groundbreaking project. The armchair comprised three curved plywood elements interlocked with each other without any joining element. This clever system allowed for utmost simplification during assembly.

4801 Kartell Modular Pieces

Interestingly, the 4801 armchair is the only piece that Kartell produced entirely from wood. This was a departure from Kartell’s mission of creating objects from plastic materials, but the production had to be undertaken with wood, owing to the lack of technologies at the time.

Wooden 4801 Kartell Without Paint

The Colorful Journey of the 4801 Armchair

Initially, the model was available in various colors such as orange, white, and light green, all of which have now become collector’s items. There was also a version with a white or black cushion with a PVC leaf cover in white, beaver, green, and black colors.

Kartell took a risk with the mold investment for the project and created a seat composed of three plywood slabs, curved, pressed, lacquered with polyester paints, interlocked without any metallic part or glue. The union of the three parts formed the seat, the backrest, and the supporting structure. It was originally completed with two low-thickness cushions and feet for placement on carpets or rugs.

Model 4801 Chair by Kartell

The Evolution of the 4801 Armchair

While studying the Acrilica lamp, Joe Colombo dreamed of using transparent slabs for this armchair, but it took many years, until 2011, to realize it. The first production in 1964 was painted in various colors, including white, black, red, orange, and green. After a few years of interruption, Kartell produced a new edition in PMMA plastic material. This new version features three color options: transparent, black, and white. Kartell presented it at the Salone del Mobile in Milan in 2011.

4801 Kartell 2011 Edition

Continued Collaborations of Joe Colombo and Kartell

Joe Colombo’s partnership with Kartell continued after creating the 4801 Armchair. In fact, it was just the beginning of a fruitful collaboration between the two. Colombo went on to design other iconic furniture pieces for Kartell, such as the Universale chair — a technologically advanced creation that quickly became a staple in contemporary design. He also ventured into lighting design, creating the KD8 and KD28 lamps, demonstrating his innovative spirit and attention to functionality.

Kartell has a talent for recognizing and nurturing design talent. They have collaborated with some of the most respected names in the field, underscoring this fact. Gae Aulenti, Vico Magistretti, Ettore Sottsass, Marco Zanuso, and Mario Bellini are among the luminaries who have partnered with Kartell, each contributing their unique vision and skill to create pieces that carry both the distinctive style of the designer and Kartell’s commitment to quality and innovation. These collaborations have contributed significantly to Kartell’s status as a leader in Italian design.

4801 Armchair Sketches by Joe Colombo

4801 Kartell: A Testament to Innovation

The 4801 Kartell armchair is not just a piece of furniture; it’s a testament to innovation, creativity, and artistic expression. Many armchairs were produced in vermilion color and displayed in Milan in the vast space of the courtyard of Palazzo Reale, with an interactive performance at a spectacular installation during the Salone del Mobile in 2016.

In conclusion, the 4801 armchair symbolizes Kartell’s pioneering spirit and Joe Colombo’s visionary design. It is a masterpiece that combines historical significance, technical ingenuity, and aesthetic appeal, making it a timeless piece of furniture that continues to inspire and captivate.

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